Harriet Critzer Plummer

Harriet Critzer was born in July of 1856, the eldest daughter of Leander and Almeda Critzer. At the age of four, Harriet was enumerated with her family in the Owsley county census in the town of Proctor. The census taker documented Leander Critzer’s occupation as Blacksmith and noted that the value of his real estate at $50 and personal property as $300.

Less than a year later, the War between the States was declared and Harriet and her family no doubt found themselves in the midst of Kentucky’s struggle to remain a neutral state. At the time of this writing, there is no documentation to tell us whether the Critzer family members served during the war or where their loyalties lay. We do know that when the war officially ended in May of 1865, hostilities in south-eastern Kentucky did not end as Confederate guerrillas and Morgan’s Raiders continued to conduct raids throughout the area.

In 1870, Owsley county’s boarders changed and Harriet and her family either moved or the county line did, because we find the Critzer family living in Lee county, Kentucky in the area known as the Coal Branch precinct. Harriet’s father Leander is listed as a Gunsmith, and also holds the title of being Lee County’s first jailer in 1870.

The day-to-day events of Harriet’s younger years are unknown and we can assume that she at some time attended a rural Kentucky school. We do not know much more about Harriet other than as oldest daughter in the household, her chores and responsibilities grew each year with the birth of at least nine siblings, Franka, Leander, William, Emily, Polly, Lou Ellen, Margaret and Ida Mae between the years 1862 and 1878.

At the age of 23, Harriet is once again enumerated in her father Leander’s household in the 1880 census. However, at this point in time, Leander is enumerated as a farmer, with his son’s Leander, William and John also listed as “working on farm”. Harriet’s occupation is not listed; however it does state that she “works for support”

Twelve days after the census was taken, on June 27, 1880 Harriet wed Samuel Plummer.

Over the next 20 years, Sam and Harriet spent the majority of the years raising their own children. Family notes tell us that their first children were twins that died at birth or shortly thereafter. When their daughter Callie arrived in December of 1882, she must have been a welcome blessing to both the Plummer and Critzer families.

At some point, Sam and Harriet did move their family to Missouri, for what reason or for how long, we do not know. What we do know is that their son Harden was born in Missouri in October of 1886. Chances are that they chose to name him after his Uncle Harden, Sam’s younger brother, who was also living in Missouri at the time.

Around this same time period, the majority of Harriet’s siblings began leaving Kentucky, some of them headed Northwest to Washington territory and some headed to Oklahoma and Texas. What prompted the family to leave Lee county is not known; however, we do know that in 1887 Harriet’s brother William was sentenced to two years in the Kentucky State Penitentiary on charges of manslaughter. It would be 40+ year until Harriet and her brother once again reunited in Crandon.

It was also during this time-frame that Kentucky folks began thinking about heading north into the woods of Northern Wisconsin. Harriet’s brother John Critzer is actually the first family member to have owned land in Forest county, purchasing land and a home in the town of North Crandon in 1899. Members of the Plummer family followed him, with the William Matt Plummer family being enumerated in the Crandon census in 1905.

What eventually made Harriet and Sam decide to move to Wisconsin in 1914? We do not know for sure, but many things point to family connections. We know that after the 1910 census, many Plummer family members had decided to make Forest county their home. By the 1920 census Sam Plummer, Anderson Plummer, Harden, Callie, Junas and Reck were all living in Forest county and having families of their own.

Harriet, a big sister to at least ten younger siblings, a mother of ten (three dying in childhood) eventually became a grandmother to many. As a sibling, mother, and grandmother Harriet’s life was not an easy one. There were times of tragedy, including the loss of her grandson Eugene at age 12 when he was living with his grandparents at their farm in the Town of Nashville.

In 1930, Harriet and Sam celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a large family get together. The pictures that exist from this event paint a picture of a large, happy family. Additionally, knowing that many of the Plummer family photos that exist today were from Harriet’s own collection, and we can tell that Harriet spent quite a bit of time corresponding with family and neighbors back in Kentucky. Newspaper accounts tell us that Harriet and Sam did return to Kentucky at some point in their golden years, but chose to return to Forest county where their family ties were the closest.

Harriet lost her husband Sam in 1933 at the age of 78. Harriet spend the last four years of her life surrounded by her children and grandchildren. dying at the home of her daughter Mattie in October of 1937 at the age of 81. She is buried next to her husband Sam in the Lakeside cemetery in Crandon.

The search for Frank Cygan (part 3)

The other Frank Cygan….

A few months ago, while poking around on Family Search, I made a great discovery…Polish Baptism Records.  And who did I find?  My great grandfather Nicholas.

Name: Nicolaus Cygan
Event: Baptism
Event Date: 01 Mar 1885
Event Place: Borowa, Borowa, Rzeszów, Poland
House Number: 25
Gender: Male
Father: Joannes Cygan
Mother: Helena Drzewicki
Volume Beginning Year: 1860
Volume Ending Year: 1887
Page Number: 131
Entry Number: 6
Film Number: 1959124
Digital Folder Number: 004645737
Image Number: 00244
Collection: Poland, Tarnow Roman Catholic Diocese Church Books, 1612-1900

I then did a little quick thinking and searched for Nicholas’ siblings by searching by his mother’s name:  Helena Drzewicki…and I found three more siblings:

Adam, Mary and Frank!

Here is Frank’s baptismal information:

Name: Franciscus Cygan
Event: Baptism
Event Date: 29 Sep 1887
Event Place: Borowa, Borowa, Rzeszów, Poland
House Number: 25
Gender: Male
Father: Joannes Cygan
Mother: Helena Darewicki
Volume Beginning Year: 1860
Volume Ending Year: 1887
Page Number: 142
Entry Number: 27
Film Number: 1959124
Digital Folder Number: 004645737
Image Number: 00257
Collection: Poland, Tarnow Roman Catholic Diocese Church Books, 1612-1900

 And here’s a Frank Cygan, living in Chicago with a birthdate of September 24, 1887.

I think I may have spent alot of time and research looking for the wrong Cygan.

There is also a Frank Cygan in the Social Security Death index with the birth date of September 24, 1887.

First Name: Frank
Middle Name:
Last Name: Cygan
Name Suffix:
Birth Date: 24 September 1887
Social Security Number: 340-05-2963
Place of Issuance: Illinois
Last Residence: Cook, Illinois
Zip Code of Last Residence: 60650
Death Date: January 1967
Estimated Age at Death: 80
Collection: U.S. Social Security Death Index

So now I’m off searching for Frank Cygan.  Date of birth September of 1887….

A Century of Progress : a visit to the World’s Fair

This past weekend I spent some time scrapbooking some treasured family photos, and discovered a part of my family’s history that is worth sharing.

This photo of Harry and Bessie Firmiss was taken in 1934.  The back of the photo reads:  “Harry and Bessie, Starrie Rock”  I assumed that the significance of the photo was the location at which it was taken.  Boy was I wrong. While trying to determine the location of Starrie Rock, I googled “1934 : A Century of Progress” and discovered that this photo was taken at the 1933-1934 World’s Fair in Chicago

The 1933-1934 World’s Fair celebrated the Centennial History of Chicago.  It’s theme was technological innovation, which means that Harry and Bessie possibly witnessed the “Homes of Tomorrow Exhibit” or the “dream cars” that the American automobile manufacturers presented.

For Harry and Bessie, the exhibits may have seen far-fetched or unbelievable.  Yet Bessie herself witnessed many of those innovations come to life.  One can only imagine how she felt the first time her daughter’s microwave was put to use during Thanksgiving dinner!
Don’t Harry and Bessie look young in this photo?  In fact Harry is 40 years old, and Bessie 38.  Which means they weren’t alive when the famous 1893 World’s Fair was in Chicago.  Harry’s parents were still out East in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, but Bessie’s parents, Henry and Stella Beauchamp, were in fact living in Chicago, or the White City, as written about in Erik Larson’s book Devil in the White City.  Did they attend the 1893 World’s Fair? Were they able to afford a ride on the original Ferris wheel?  Did they have their picture taken at the Fair?

Maybe someday another treasured family photo will lead me to discover that and more…

Naming Patterns

In today’s society naming patterns aren’t as obvious as they once were.  Sure my oldest son is named for his grandfather Sam, but many times the parents of today pick a name for many different reasons.  However, when doing family history, researchers must be on the lookout for naming patterns as sometimes it will help move research along. 

For instance, my great grandmother’s marriage record states her name as Beatrice Beauchamp, and her early census records list her as Bessie.  {Which is of course how I knew her} However, in the 1930 census we finally find her as Elizabeth.  It turns out that Bessie Beauchamp’s grandmother was also named Elizabeth.

In the 1900 census the Henry and Stella Beauchamp family can be found living at 173 W. 16th street with their children Fred, Frank, Bessie and Lillian.  Henry is listed as a French-Canadian and it was always assumed that he was the immigrant ancestor.  However, a recently found death certificate for Elizabeth Bouchamp, age 65, with the place of residence at 173 W. 16th street, adds another branch to the Beauchamp family tree.  I believe this Elizabeth to be the grandmother of Bessie and the mother of my great, great grandfather Henry Beauchamp.

And while the relationship is not yet 100% proved, there are three documents that help prove it:

#1.  The death certificate listing the same address as the 1900 census two years later;
#2.  The marriage index listing for Henry’s second marriage that lists his mother as Elizabeth;
#3.  The 1920 census that lists Bessie as Elizabeth…[otherwise known as the naming pattern].

And if your wondering who Henry’s second wife was…that’s for a different day~!  Before I go there, I must also tell you about my grandfather Andrew Reilly being named after his grandfather, my son Jeremy’s discovery of a “Jeremiah”, and my nephew Nicholas’ discovery of another Nicholas!

I’m having fun!