Monday, May 10, 2010

Uncovering the Death of Anton Koewler

The death of my great - great grandfather, Anton Koewler, has driven me mad for years!  His daughter was Henrietta, wife of Joseph Haitz.   She and Joseph were the parents of sixteen children, the ninth being my grandfather, George Henry Haitz.

From census data, I knew Anton had immigrated from Germany to Ripley, Ohio sometime around 1866 with his wife, Henrietta Fischer, and their daughter, Catherine.  Henry their second child was born in Ohio around 1867.  Anton and Henrietta would go on to have 12 children, eight of whom I have at least some information.  

Also from the census, I had an approximate birth year, 1840, for Anton, however, his death remained a mystery.   When Anton was not found with his family in the 1900 census and Henrietta is listed as a widow, the first thing that obviously popped into my head was that Anton was dead.  I entered his death into Reunion as "before June 1900" keeping in mind that the death date is nothing until proven. 

Then, along came, my Newspaper Archive subscription!  I entered KOEWLER into the search engine and several prospects appeared.  I looked at each, making notes, sometimes printing, when a small front page article in the September 5th issue of the Hamilton Daily Republican News caught my eye.  Now Hamilton, Ohio is quite a distance from Ripley, but not wanting to miss anything, I clicked on the link.  A small five sentence paragraph with the dateline "Ripley, O., Sept. 5" became a clue that would send me on the journey of discovering Anton's story.

The article was titled, "Farmer Shot While In His Melon Patch".  It read, 
"Tony Koewler, aged 62, a farmer, was shot while in a watermelon patch by William Tidwell.  The two met and had hot words.  The result of the wound can not yet be determined.  He is apparently paralyzed.  Tidwell gave himself up."
Could Tony be my Anton?  The age/birth year calculation was pretty close and I had found him sometimes listed as Anthony.  I immediately e-mailed the most helpful librarian at Union Township Public Library in Ripley to see if the town newspaper, the Ripley Bee, was available on microfilm for 1899.  She quickly responded that unfortunately, it was not, but that she would check the News-Democrat, the paper for the nearby town of Georgetown.  I couldn't wait to hear from her!  You'll have to stay tuned for the rest of the story!  It's an interesting one!

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