26 December 2010

It Started With Fern Beatrice Acker

It Started With Fern Beatrice Acker

By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 31 Dec 2010)

From the Abstracts of West Unity Reporter Obituaries
(This collection of obituaries is gleaned from a book found in the Williams County Public Library in Bryan, Ohio.  Some of the material is not dated.  It would appear that this was a random collection and does not contain all obituaries from this newspaper.  Researchers are encouraged to check this original source for further data. Females are cross-filed by maiden and married names.)


p131-132 – Fern Beatrice Acker
d/o Douglass & Anna Acker
b West Unity 20 Sept 1899
d 24 Apr 1900 @7M 4D
rel of M/M HC Jones

This all started with Fern, a little girl who died in West Unity, Williams Co, OH on 24 April 1900; Fern was only 7 months and 4 days old.  Her obituary appeared in the above-mentioned collection of news obits.  I had decided some time ago to follow up several of the obits with a more detailed history of the people mentioned.  I planned to begin with Fern, but what I did not realize was the interesting story I would uncover about her family.

Fern Beatrice Acker, the daughter of Douglas Preston Acker and Anna Belle Jones, was born in West Unity on 20 Sept 1899. I started with three pieces of information – a birth record (Williams Co, OH Births V3 p3), a death record (Williams Co, OH Deaths V3 p2), and the obituary.  Census data took me first to her paternal side as follows:

1860 Morenci, Lenawee, Michigan; Roll: M653_551; Page: 739; Image: 739; Family History Library Film: 803551.
h/h 2106/2121 Acker, Levi 28 NY clerk
Sarah 26 OH
Eliza 6 MI

1870 Jackson Ward 2, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: M593_678; Page: 186B; Image: 377; Family History Library Film: 552177
h/h 375/351 Acker, Levi 39 NY saloon keeper, worth 5,000 (?)
Sarah 36 OH
Eliza 16 MI
Preston 7 MI
Mortimer 8/12 Oct MI
Van Riper, Minerva 18 MI domestic servant

1880 Morenci, Lenawee, Michigan; Roll: 591; Family History Film: 1254591; Page: 447D; Enumeration District: 169; Image: 0576
h/h 190/198 Acker, Levi 51 laborer NY-PA-PA
Sarah wife 46 OH-NY-NY
Douglas P son 16 MI-NY-OH laborer
Mortimer L son 10 MI-NY-OH
Warren B son 5 MI-NY-OH
McCaskey, Lydia servant/housekeeper 21 OH-OH-OH

1883 Jackson, Jackson Co, MI City Directory, p46
Douglas P. Acker, clerk for JH King, boards at Pond Block (other Ackers mentioned – Elizabeth, Frederick l)

15 Aug 1884, Jonesville, Hillsdale Co, OH; marriage of Douglas Acker born 1863 Morenci, Lenawee Co, MI to Minnie Phetterplace of Palmyra, MI; he was a resident of Jackson, MI and she of Fayette, Fulton Co, OH; Douglas, a teamster, was 21 and she was 18.  Mary E. “Minnie” Phetterplace Acker, the daughter of James and Ann Phetterplace, married Lincoln Taylor, 22 Feb 1888 in Fulton Co, OH.  This is the first divorce for Douglas Acker.

2 Jan 1888, Kalamazoo Co, MI; marriage of Douglas P. Acker son of Levi Acker and Sarah Clark; he born 1864 MI to Olive B. Drunis born 1870 OH, daughter of William O Drunis and Viola Meese; he was 24 and she was 18; he was previously married and a resident of Kalamazoo. (Olive and her parents have disappeared; I wonder if the last name is something else.)

So to recap my notes, it appears that Douglas Preston Acker, born 1863 in Morenci. Lenawee Co, MI, was the son of Levi Acker and Sarah Clark.  Levi may be the son of George Acker and Lydia Holben who lived in Seneca Co, NY; this family later moved to Fulton Co, OH and Lenawee Co, MI.  Internet sources say that Levi (Sept 1831 NY – aft 1900) and Sarah (1834 OH –bet 1880-1883) had the following children:
1.  Lida Marium (13 Mar 1854, Morenci, Lenawee Co, MI – 3 Mar 1930, Chelsea, Washtenaw Co, MI) mar Thomas Kingman Rockwell, 17 Oct 1875
2.  Douglas Preston (July 1863, Lenawee Co, MI – aft 1930)
3.  Mortimer Lee (18 Nov 1869, Jackson Co, MI – 29 Feb 1932, Akron, Summit Co, OH; mar 1 – Lovina Havens, 17 Oct 1895, Jackson Co, MI; mar 2 – Emma Benze, 7 Sept 1902, Lenawee Co, MI; mar 3 – Nellie M. Fletcher Smith, 1 Dec 1919, Jackson Co, MI
4.  Warren B (Jan 1875, MI – aft 1910); mar 1 Adah A. Beatty, 24 Oct 1897, MI; mar 2 – Olive Bauman, c1905

Levi Acker married Emma L. Case in Hillsdale Co, MI on 27 Nov 1883; both parties were residents of Morenci, MI; Levi, a businessman, was 52 and Emily was 37; this is confirmed by the following census:

1900 Seneca, Lenawee, Michigan; Roll: T623_725; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 61.
h/h 337/341 Acker, Levi (Sept 1831) 68 NY-PA-PA mar 15Y (1885) retired farmer
Emely L wife (Feb 1846) 54 OH-NY-NY 2/2 ch

Next we’ll take a look at Fern’s maternal line, the Jones family, which is evidenced by the following data and census records:

Henry C. Jones  (4 Feb 1834, OH - 26 Sept 1908 West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH, Death V3 p68); plasterer, married Marium E. Spencer, 7 Apr 1871, Williams Co, OH (V4 p166); CW Vet; bur Floral Grove Cem, West Unity; Marium is found in the 1870 household of Allen Spencer; this may be her father, but that is not determined to-date.  She had daughter Cora who is identified as “Cora Spencer”
1. Cora Spencer (4 Feb 1868, West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH – 4 Sept 1947, Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Williams Co, OH); mar William Ehrat (1865-Jan 1942); both bur Floral Grove Cem, West Unity
2.  Nellie D. (10 Nov 1872, Brady Twp - Birth V1 p35) to (10 Aug 1874, Brady Twp - Death V 1 p21); death due to cholera
2.  Anna Belle Jones (Oct 1875, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH – bet 1920 and 1930, prob Ingham Co, MI)

1860  Millcreek, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M653_1052; Page: 135; Image: 275; Family History Library Film: 805052.
h/h 177/169 Spencer, Allen 37 OH farmer
Jane 33 OH
Mary Ann 12 OH
Thomas 10 OH
James 5 OH
Sarah 1 OH

1870 West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M593_1282; Page: 20A; Image: 43; Family History Library Film: 552781
h/h 71/71 Spencer, Allen 49 OH
Jane 42 OH
Mariam 24 OH
Ida 6 OH
Cora 2 OH

(An essential question – Is Marium Spencer the daughter of Allen and Jane Spencer, their daughter-in-law, or some other relative?  It appears to me that Marium is the daughter of Allen H and Jane Rockwell Spencer.  Now from the 1860 census above, it looks like Ida and Cora are Marium's daughters, but in the 1880 enumeration for Allen and Jane, they have Ida 16 OH listed as their daughter.  More research needs to be done!)  Ida Spencer married James Oliver Swisher on 25 Oct 1883 in Williams Co, OH, Marriage V5 #401.

Weston Goodspeed’s History of Williams County, Ohio, 1882, p688, states that “Allen Abner Spencer married 12 Oct 1843, (Williams Co, OH Marriages V1 p71) Jane Rockwell, daughter of Justice K. and Miriam Rockwell; Jane was born in Richland Co, OH on 7 Aug 1827.  The couple had seven children.  In 1839 Allen assisted in the survey of the first east-west road laid out through Williams County.”

According to Presidents, Soldiers, and Statesmen, 1892, p633, Allen Spencer was born on 8 June 1822 in Harrison Co, OH, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Turner Spencer.  He was a CW vet of Co E 68th OVI.  His father was also a CW Vet and his wife’s father (not named) was a veteran of the War of 1812.  Comrade Spencer is totally disabled and draws a pension as of 1892.

Allen H. Spencer died on 13 Nov 1893 and was buried in Floral Grove Cem, West Unity, OH; his wife Jane Rockwell Spencer died on 5 July 1898 and was buried beside her husband; he was 71Y 3M 5D and she was 70Y 10M 28D.  These appear to be the great-grandparents of Fern Beatrice Acker.

1880 Brady, Williams, Ohio; Roll: 1077; Family History Film: 1255077; Page: 515C; Enumeration District: 5; Image: 0664
h/h 155/168 Jones, Henry C 46 OH-VA-VA mason
Marianne 32 wife OH-OH-OH
Cora 12 dau OH-OH-OH
Anna Bell 4 dau OH-OH-OH

27 Sept 1895 (no newspaper source cited – Internet posting)
H. C. Jones of Williams County, Ohio, a former resident of Brook, and an uncle of our townsman M. A. (Morris A.) Jones is here renewing old acquaintances.

1900 West Unity, Brady, Williams, Ohio; Roll: T623_1332; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 100
h/h 235/242 Jones, Henry C  (66) Feb 1834 OH-VA-VA plaster
Marium E. (53) wife Jan 1847 OH-OH-OH mar 29Y 3/2 children
Spencer, Ida niece (13) May 1887 Wyoming – OH- Ireland

Henry C. Jones, probably son of Moses and Anna Harrell Jones of Ross Co, OH, has a obit in The Bryan Democrat, 29 Sept 1908 p1 and 2 Oct 1908 p2.

His widow, Marium, can be found in the following two federal census records:
1910 Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH, p9B
h/h 268/273 living on Defiance St, West Unity - Jones, Maryium 63 OH-OH-OH widow 3/2 ch

1920 Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH p9A
h/h 281/302 living on Defiance St, West Unity - Jones, Marium E 72 OH-OH-OH

Marium Spencer Jones does not appear in the 1930 federal census; I have not found any obituary for her to-date.

So next one finds the parents of little Fern B. Acker.

Anna Belle Jones married Douglas Preston Acker on 16 July 1896 in Williams Co, OH (Marriage V7 #178).  They were enumerated in the following census records:

1900 West Unity, Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH, Roll: T623_1332; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 100
h/h 149/154 Acker, Douglas P (36)July 1863  MI-NY-OH carpenter, rents house
Anna  (24) wife Oct 1875, OH-OH-OH 1/0 ch mar c1897
(both can read and write)

1910 Lansing Ward 1, Ingham, Michigan; Roll: T624_651; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 59; Image: 186
911 North Larch Street
h/h 48/52  Acker, Douglas B 46 mar 13Y MI-MI-MI body maker in auto shop, rents house
Anna  34 OH-OH-OH wife both mar 1x no children
(Obviously this is wrong due to Fern Beatrice’s birth and death records and her obituary.  This census record also is faulty on the number of Douglas' marriages, as Anna was his third wife.)

On 30 July 1919 in Jackson Co, MI, Anna Jones Acker married Ervin S. Bixler, 

On 1 Dec 1919, Douglas Acker stood in as a witness for his brother, Mortimer’s third marriage; Douglas’ residence was Jackson, Jackson Co, MI.

It would appear that Douglas and Anna divorced sometime between the enumeration of the 1910 federal census and Anna’s second marriage on 30 July 1919.  The next two available census records show Douglas as being divorced.

1920 Leoni, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: T625_774; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 33; Image: 792
h/h 87/86 Acker, Dangular bro-in-law 56 D or S (D is bigger than surrounding S) MI-NY-OH clerk Ruel Hotel Jason (?), wage earner living with
Rockwell, Thomas 67 MI-NY-CT farm gardener
Lydia wife 65 MI-NY-OH and son Howard 35, his wife Sophia (Lumelius) 29, and their children – William, Catharine, Charles, Edward
(Note Lydia Rockwell is the sister of Douglas Acker.)

1930 Jackson, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: 996; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 20; Image: 28.0
21 West Washington Ave
h/h 236/435 Acker, Douglas 47 MI-NY-NY divorced, cutter in corset factory, lodger w/Albert C. Brown 54 widower

The following data shows Anna as the wife of Ervin Bixler and her absence in 1930 federal census (presumed death):

1920 Lansing, Ingham Co, MI, p14B
h/h 286/286 Bixler, Ervin 42 IN-IN-IN machinist in auto factory
Anna 41 OH-OH-OH wife
Arthur 11 MI-IN-OH son
Keim, Adolph 34 lodger

Ervin S. Bixler (25 Oct 1877, Marshall Co, IN – aft 1930) was the son of John and Mary Yockman Bixler.  He was first married to Rose E. Deisch, 4 Feb 1915.  She was the mother of Arthur Bixler (1920 Lansing, Ingham Co, MI federal census referenced above).

1922 Lansing City Directory: Bixler Irvin S (Anna), wks Pruddens, h 719 Porte

1930 Lansing, Ingham Co, MI p5B
Bixler, Ervin 51 IN-OH-OH factory laborer, widower

Time for Speculation

Douglas Acker was married three times with no known children, aside from Fern Beatrice.  Anna Jones Acker Bixler was married twice with no known children besides Fern.  I wonder if this (the lack of other children and/or the grief of losing Fern) was the key to the couple’s divorce.  If any one has more data on this family, please email me. 

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