The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I forgot once again about Jerry W. Mertens.

I now have visual proof via my great uncle Jerome N. Mertens' obituary that the former football player with the Niners is actually my second cousin, once removed. My grandfather's brother's son, for those of you keeping score at home.

Genealogy Milestone

It was sitting there, so obvious to me, that I didn't even realize it.

I finally got over to the Waukesha Public Library yesterday (on zero sleep) and looked up the obituary for my great-grandmother Annie Kelly. There, in the depths of the notice in the Waukesha Freeman, was the name of my great-great-grandfather, Peter Riley. Some further peeking around on Ancestry tracked down the name of his wife, Ellen.

So, I now have the names of my entire family going back to the fifth generation - though I do not have the maiden names for two of them. Ironically, they're in the same generational line (my grandmother Houk's grandmothers).

What's even better, I've managed to track down some relations within the Mertens clan to help fill in the blanks among the generations. Of course, it helps that my grandfather's two youngest siblings are still alive on my mom's side (as opposed to my dad's side, where all 13 have passed on).

The cherry on top is that I've managed to expand Sarah's family tree by a bit as well, after tracking down a lot more information about her grandfather's family. Her great-grandfather was missing and presumed dead after a long time, mostly because he never came home one day after fishing.

So for not having a whole lot of sleep over the last few days, I'm feeling pretty good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Christmas Eve

For hockey fans, today is Christmas Eve.

The longest day of the year.

The day before training camps open.

Tomorrow, all of their favorite players - and some soon-to-be favorites - will take to the ice to begin the nine month quest for the Holy Grail of Hockey.

The "Dominion Trophy". Also known as Lord Stanley's Cup.

Teams have new faces, some old familiar ones, and a couple of faces that we're not quite sure about.

Veterans with something to prove, rookies who want to make the NHL. Even a few guys who've gone to great lengths just to show up for training camp (cue the Mission Impossible theme for Mr. Malkin).

It all starts Friday morning.

Christmas Day for Hockey.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Geneaology Fun, Part 2

I'm slowly learning that, when it comes to researching your family history, sometimes the stuff you're not looking for comes to you at the strangest times.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon trying to track down an obituary for one of my grandfather's brothers, Peter Houk. I wasn't having too much success, though; I did find the obituary of my grandfather's oldest brother's wife, but that was about it.

So, I decided to head out to St. Bruno's Catholic Church in Dousman to do some gravesite searching. I felt a little sheepish that I had to ask where the church was at a local gas station (I'm not as familiar with the area as I'd like to be), but I found the "new" church site. When I asked if Peter was buried there, they said they'd have to contact the caretaker of the cemetary about whether or not he was there. They did say I was free to go over to the cemetary - located on the site of the "old" church - to look around.

The old church was out on the other end of town, and I wasn't entirely sure about what I might find out there... until I saw my great grandfather and grandmother's gravestones. Right at their feet was another Houk... but it was their youngest daughter, my great Aunt Alice Pitt. I did some more poking around, looking around in the cemetary. I saw a lot of familiar names from my genealogy research, like Mundschau.

After a brief stop at another cemetary in Oconomowoc - St. Jerome's, where my grandfather and grandmother are buried - I headed home. A few hours later, I got a phone call from the caretaker of the cemetary. I'd already talked to my aunt and my dad about their Uncle Peter, and I was convinced that Peter wasn't buried in Dousman. The caretaker mentioned something to that fact, saying, "well, we have a George and a Barbarra Houk..." The dates he listed for those two - January of 1819 to October 14 of 1900 for George, and 1823-1905 for Barbarra - made me stop dead in my tracks.

Those were my grandfather's grandparents. And I didn't have any dates or information about them... until now. He also gave me the dates for Charles Houk, my great grandfather's brother (1855-1878).

I had more information than I needed, but it was fantastic.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Addendum to Jerry Mertens

Silly me about my assumptions:

Former 49ers defensive back Jerry Mertens is a second cousin of mine. His father, Raymond, was my grandfather Joe Mertens' brother - actually, his step-brother. Which puts him at "second cousin once removed" status.

Still - he's a cousin.

Geneaology Fun

Digging into your family's past can be a fun thing. Just a few things that I didn't know about my family a few weeks ago that I know now:
The thing about doing your geneaology is, the more you find out, the more questions you end up having. And right now, I'm at that stage of the game.