The prompt this week is ‘FIRST’! This can be interpreted in anyway you choose; first child, first college grad, etc. I’ve chosen to write about Emma Jane Weiss, the FIRST ancestor I bonded with as I learned about her. When I started my research, I didn’t know much about Emma. I knew the name Emma Weiss as I was growing up—she was my father's grandmother. But she'd died when he was only a year old, so of course, I never knew her. As I researched her and learned about her I felt as though I came to know her and I bonded to her. I caught myself wondering what her life was like growing up in rural Illinois, what she made for dinner, and what stories she knew of her grandparents, and how she survived the cold winters. Here is some of what I’ve learned about Emma:
Emma Jane Weiss was born 4 Dec 1864 in Brighton, Macoupin County, Illinois to Henry Weiss and Catherine Holton Weiss, possibly the last of 10 children. At least that is what her obituary states; but it also gives her name as Mary Jane at one point, so there is a problem with the accuracy of the article! Also, a much younger child, Bertie, listed on the 1880 census as a daughter of Catherine and Henry, but I’ve been unable to learn anything further about Bertie, so I can’t verify the accuracy of that, either!
Emma grew up on her father’s farm northwest of Brighton in Macoupin County, Illinois, where he raised livestock. On 10 April 1894 Emma married Henry Jacob Kolk in Upper Alton, Illinois, transitioning from farmer’s daughter to farmer’s wife. Her marriage record states that would be 27 on her next birthday, making her birth year 1868, but all census records and her death record indicate that she was born in 1864. It’s possible that she misled her groom to believe she was younger; it’s possible he wasn’t sure of her age when he made the affadavit; it’s possible the informants for the census and death certificate just didn’t know her exact birth year. I’ve been unable to confirm her exact age with a birth record.
Emma died ten years later on 24 Sep 1926 in Alton, Madison County, Illinois from Bright’s Disease. The funeral was officiated by the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, possibly in Alton. Emma was buried next to Henry in Godffey Cemetery, Godfrey, Madison County, Illinois.
40. 1880 U.S. Census, WEISS, Henry & PADDOCK, Robert Families, Brighton Township, Macoupin County, Illinois, 9 Jun 1880, FamilySearch.org, viewed in “United States Census, 1880, index and images,” 64 of 819, citing NARA Series T9 Roll 232 Page 30, accessed 9 Oct 2014.
46. KOLK, Henry J - WEISS, Emma J, Marriage Record, Madison County Register of Marriages, License # 3125, Madison County, Illinois, 30 Apr 1894, IRAD, Carbondale, Illinois.
195. KOLK, Emma Jane , Death Certificate, Alton, Madison County, Illinois, 24 Sep 1926, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, Roll 219; File #0037327, accessed 8 Jan 2004.
419. KOLK, Emma Jane obit, “Alton Evening Telegraph,” Alton, Madison County, Illinois, 28 Sep 1926, page pg 2, NewspaperArchive.com, accessed 20 Aug 2009.