Hard-to-find information

A cousin recently sent me an obit for the sister of my great, great grandfather. The sister’s name was Ida Smith Seeber; her brother, my direct ancestor, was Alfred Josiah “Si” Smith.

seeber_ida marie_obit_sphelps

This is exactly the type of documentation I am looking for, the type I want to share here.

Here’s why.

Si was the author of the letters I’m profiling in my series INTO IRONWOOD, and our malevolent matriarch’s father. This link takes you to the Smith page, at the bottom of which are links to Josiah’s letters.

His letters began in 1889 from Ironwood, Michigan, and there are 14 total.

Not only do we have all 14 gems, they are the originals. So far, I’ve transcribed six, all of which can be found through the Ironwood link above.

Si frequently mentions Ida, her husband Louis Seeber, and the Seeber children in his letters. The two families lived in close proximity and spent lots of time together. Si talks about holidays, school, gardening, crops, other siblings, and their Smith parents, the Reverend Charles Smith and wife Mariah PollyAnn BIXBY.

After reading Si’s account of life in Ironwood, I feel as if I know Ida. Si talks about the birth of the Seeber children as well as his own. The obit supplements information I gleaned from Si’s letters.

I didn’t have other information about Ida until I received the obit.


I’ve hit several brick walls with the Geier family, my dad’s side.

I was able to piece together life in Trout Creek, Montana for Joseph and Bertha Geier, my great grandparents, immeasurably better with news clippings.

My grandfather Carl Geier and his sister Mamie performed in the Christmas program in Trout Creek in 1905 when he was 11 and she 10. This is the ONLY piece of personal information I have about Carl’s childhood. Most other information is limited to census records.

geier carl and mamie_chrismtas program_sanders co ledger_1905From the Sanders County Ledger, 1905, the clip states which poem or song each child performed. I can picture Carl standing in front of the crowd, hair neatly in place and wearing a bright red tie.

Geier Mamie Obit_The Sanders County Ledger_29 Jan 1909 pg 2One likely reason we find so little information about our family is the misspelling of Geier. Here it’s fairly close, yet the continual error makes the search difficult. This clip is from the same paper, 29 January, 1909. Mamie died from scarlet fever when she was 13.

Have you ever seen “V…_MAIL” or Victory Mail? My grandfather Herman G Appell received this note from his brother while Vic Appell was serving in the military. Started in 1943, it was the military’s new way to microfilm letter sheets. (For the history buffs in the crowd: https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/past/the-art-of-cards-and-letters/mail-call/v-mail.html).

Vic had just been in the hospital with a “bad throat,” and was anxious to leave military life and England. “I wish I could come home,” he wrote. Vic never married and left no offspring. This may be the only sample of Vic’s handwriting.

appell vic_note sent to bro herman 1945 from England while serving_APO NY to TacomaFor reasons unknown, Herman’s wife Margaret Adelaide Patterson Appell, my grandma, saved the note.

These are examples of elusive information most history hungry folks would love to see.

Cousins: If you would be willing to share an obit or another hard-to-find document, please use the CONTACT FORM here.

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