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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Significance of Viroqua, Now & then

I could not stop myself from displaying yet another way of viewing some of our family tree in the new 3D program from Progeny -- I just find it fascinating, and maybe I'll even master how to perfect the display:

Clicking on the above you can see that this is a ancestor view showing me and my siblings with some of the four generations that came before us -- it is hard to pick out the individual names, but they are there. Hopefully I'll be able to do a better job, but I just like the way this formed out -- very colorful'

Racine -- World War One Days

Wisconsin sure has played a major role for many of us who populate this tree. Oddly enough, even for my wife's side of the family there are Wisconsin connections and questions.

WWI left it's mark on Racine as did the Civil War and probably all the other wars as well. I never met the following individuals that participated in WWI, but I am related to one of them and Gail MAY be related to the other designated one . . .

The top arrow -- three rows down, points to my first cousin ( 2 x removed) Olaf Johnson. Olaf is related to me (and my siblings) through the marriage of Samuel Thorbjornsen Martin and Elise Larson.

The bottom arrow, is another matter -- on Gail's side we have scoured the web for any evidence of Marius Jensen, while this may not be him, it is interesting that someone with that name is found with a relative of mine. Marius Jensen that we have found for sure was in Dane County, Wisconsin, but we lost track of him and we are not sure of what became of him. He is the great grandfather of Gail and certainly was someone of
quality and he raised a nice family -- including Gail's grandmother Jenny.

And Now the "Viroqua" Connection

Jeremy Hiles, my nephew was born in Chicago a little over forty years ago. He moved with his family to California, Washington and a few other states while growing up. He ultimately found himself in Wisconsin going to school. There he met his future wife, Heather. As often is the case, the husband finds himself relocating to the town of his wife -- and that is what happened to Jeremy. He moved to Viroqua.

Unknown to Jeremy was the fact that HILES and related surnames like GILLETT were pioneers in Viroqua and have had some interesting stories along the way. My Great Great Grandfather, Daniel moved into Wisconsin about 1857 and settled in Clinton a nearby town. By 1870 Daniel and family lived in Viroqua.

Daniel was a farmer and he had a large family -- eight children:

Above is a screenshot from showing Daniel and Mary Jane with their family. At the same time in Viroqua was the Gillett family headed by Juliette Head Gillett (William Abrigen Gillett died in 1860). They had ten children -- I'm not sure how the financial state of affairs was in the household:

This is the family from which 18 year old Sophia married 65 year old John S Hart -- which may be indicative of the dire straits felt by some in the family. But Sophia's sister, Emily Adeline Gillett would become my Great Grandmother when she married John Hiles in 1871 in nearby Webster, Wisconsin.

Five Years Prior to the Above

It seems that Viroqua is not a town that is in the national spotlight -- but in 1865 there was some nasty weather that I'm sure made the national news -- such as it was in those days. And this was right at the end of the Civil War and all:

Clicking on the above you can read some of the destruction and the 19 or so deaths caused by the storm. We had a relative -- Lydia Gillett -- die in the storm. Lydia was staying in the home of Cyrus Gillett and family in Viroqua. Cyrus is the father of James Norris Gillett (Governor of California 1907--1911) and apparently Lydia Gillett was the wife of another Gillett who was off in the war. When the storm hit Lydia ran to shut the front door and was struck by flying timber and was killed AND the whole house was demolished. Cyrus and the others in the house had just made it down into the basement and were not injured.

I am not sure if Viroqua has had other violent tornadoes since that one. But in the town's cemetery are several HILES and HILES related folks. We visited several along with Jeremy a few years back when we visited.

Great Grand Uncle

Leroy Hiles, born in 1850 in Harrison County, Ohio, came along to Wisconsin with his father Daniel and family about 1857 -- for most of his life he lived in and around Viroqua and was associated with farming and owned a farm in Viroqua:

Pictured above are: Rena Smith Hiles, Malcolm and Leroy Hiles about 1886 or so. There were three children in this family but I believe the other two died early as infants.

Unfortunately, Malcolm the boy shown above would die at 50 years of age -- gunned down in the restaurant that he owned in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The shooting took place in January of 1931. His father Leroy, who was widowed at the time and lived with Malcolm and Emma would die one month later at 79 years of age.

Above is the 1930 census showing the family -- that was about to change a great deal . . .

That's a peek at some of the Wisconsin family history -- there is a lot more. You can check out more at my website Dan's Website.

We are making progress with the walker and physical therapy, it's a work-in-progress as is our kitchen. Maybe the timing will be the same and including the conclusion of the tax season.

We hope to get Dino back late next week -- that's our week -- see you in a few!

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