This photo was taken 73 years ago today. It shows Junior (George) Florenz Weil holding his days-old son, also named George Florenz Weil. The elder Junior was in the U.S. Army Air Corp, and was likely on active duty when his son was born. This photo was likely taken on or near Pyote Army Air Field in Ward County, Texas, where Junior was stationed. Junior and baby George’s mother, Catherine Lawhorne, were married in Ward County the year before.
The little one was the third generation to be named George Weil. George Florenz Weil Jr., born 2 March 1945. His father was George Florenz Weil Jr., born 9 January 1920, and was typically called Junior. His grandfather (not pictured) was George William Weil, born 2 October 1889.
My great-uncle, Ted Jordan, passed away unexpectedly last week. I last saw Ted when I was five years old, when he came to Christmas in Illinois. I don’t remember much about our encounters that year, but I remember him as jolly and friendly, and had a genuine smile. Although I didn’t know him well, I’ve gotten to know him through talking to those who worked with him, cared about him, and were his family. Below is my memorial to him.
Ted C. Jordan
Ted Clarence Jordan was born July 28, 1939 in Chicago, IL, and died February 15, 2018 in Portland, OR at the age of 78 after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street. He was the son of Erwin and Dorothy (née Mueller) Wischmeyer.
Ted in Chicago, about 1941.
Ted and his sister Trudy, about 1943.
Ted with his parents, Erwin and Dorothy Wischmeyer, and his sister Trudy, about 1942.
Ted with his mother Dorothy and his sister Trudy, about 1947.
Ted grew up in Chicago, and the family lived for a short time in California. After Erwin passed away in 1944, Dorothy married Waldemar “Wally” G. Jordan in 1949. Ted and his sister were officially adopted by their stepfather and they changed their last names to Jordan. They all moved to Seattle, WA in June of 1949. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in Seattle in 1959. He lived in several cities, including Pescadero and San Diego, and ultimately settled in Portland, Oregon in about 1972. During that time, he also loved traveling with his parents and sister, and they visited sights like the Grand Canyon and Door County, WI. Ted played in an accordion band, and loved to sing and act.
In Portland, Ted worked at Lewis and Clark College as a “Bon Appetit employee extraordinaire.” He was known as “Yogi” and was beloved by the students. (He apparently earned the nickname Yogi when he was growing up and playing baseball with some neighborhood friends. They said “hit the ball like Yogi” and the name stuck.) He took pride in his work and became the steadfast friendly and smiling face that welcomed the students every day as they ate their meals. The would affectionately refer to the Lewis and Clark students as “my kids,” even if they had graduated a long time ago and had kids of their own. He encouraged the students by handing out balloons, jokes, and smiles. He especially enjoyed giving out Mickey Mouse balloons. One of his coworkers, Ryan Jensen said, “Most people on campus have fond memories of Ted handing out balloons and welcoming students every day, attending arts and athletic events, and offering his generous smile to all of us. He was a fixture of campus life that can never be replaced.” When Ted encountered some financial difficulties, the students helped him get on his feet again by starting a GoFundMe campaign. The funds helped him stay in his apartment and help with daily living expenses. He worked at the college for nearly 40 years.
His kindness and generosity extended beyond the community college campus. He built friendships with people everywhere he went. He was well known all around Portland as he walked and used the public transit to attend every cultural event, dinner, and classical concert he could find. He loved to meet new people and hear their stories. He knew every part of Portland, and knew how to get anywhere using the bus, tram or train. In the summer, he loved the freedom of traveling in the areas around Portland, and to enjoy the mountains and fresh air. He dreamed of traveling abroad to London or Australia. Ted also loved music. He believed that “the most important thing a parent can do is get their child an instrument.” In his early years, he played cymbals for the Lewis and Clark pep band, and especially enjoyed a cappella groups on campus. He still had dreams of learning to play the organ at Flanagan Chapel at Lewis and Clark, and Grace Lutheran Church, his home congregation. At the end of his memorial service, the organist played Ted’s two favorite organ arrangements, which are full of joy and energy.
He had been a member of Grace Lutheran Church ever since he arrived in Portland in the early 1970’s. He loved his family there, and had a profound and joyful faith. His pastor Thad Bitter said that those who knew him knew how blessed he was. His “unique sense of fashion” and his rough exterior was just a shell to the beautiful, joyful soul that he had. The pastor described Ted as a beautiful flower that was planted in an old rusty pail. The flower didn’t match his temporary container, and could only grow so big while in its small pail. After death, Ted’s flower has now been transplanted into the heavenly garden and can flourish on its own. He had the unique ability to be content with whatever circumstances that he was in, and to share his joy for life with others. In his faith, he lived ready to meet his Savior, and didn’t let his earthly troubles discourage him from sharing his faith and joy for life. One of the hymns during his memorial service seems to describe his life well, saying “When peace like a river attendeth my way, Whenever sorrows like sea billows roll — Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Ted touched so many lives through his friendship and enthusiasm for life. Fellow members of his congregation described him as “the nicest man I’ve ever met,” and “very knowledgeable about people and Portland.” He was beloved by students, who said “Thanks for being you Yogi!” and “For the years of jokes, balloons, and words of encouragement.” and “Thank you for creating a friendly and safe environment in the Bon, and for working so tirelessly day in and day out. You’re one of my favorite parts of this school.” He was clearly an important part of daily life for both his “kids” and his coworkers at Lewis and Clark. His coworkers at Bon Appetit wrote to him saying, “The kitchen is not the same without you. Know you are loved. We all carry you in our heart.” and “You are a shining example of someone who enjoys life.” Another coworker wrote, “Your conversations, personality and balloons are an essential piece of the cafeteria. We are all missing you…”
Every year on February 14, he would sing “Happy Birthday” to the state of Oregon. Unfortunately, he was unable to sing for Oregon this year, but I know he inspired others to continue the tradition. He passed away the following day, on February 15. He will be greatly missed by his friends, family, students, congregation, and coworkers!
Ted is survived by his sister, two nephews, four great-nieces, and five first cousins. He is preceded in death by his father Erwin Wischmeyer; his mother Dorothy (Mueller) Wischmeyer Jordan; his stepfather Waldemar (aka Wally) G. Jordan; his cousins Rowena (Jordan) Koshinski, Elbert Jordan, and Jim Diener; and his niece Jean (Weil) Wensink. He is also remembered by his Grace Lutheran Church family, his Bon Appetit and Lewis and Clark family, and his countless friends.
A celebration of Ted’s life was held at Grace Lutheran Church on Monday, February 19th at 3:00 pm. He will be buried in the family plot in St. Luke Cemetery in Chicago, IL.
I rely on census records to tell me a lot about my ancestors, and to see a snapshot of their households in particular points in time. I also try to browse their neighbors to see who they lived near, who they could have known, and who they may have done business with. I’ve found some valuable information and a few remarkable coincidences this way!
I recently uncovered one of these amazing coincidences while doing some research for my first cousin’s side of the family. While looking at some state census records, I happened to find two of our ancestors living just houses away from each other! Because most of my roots run deep in DeKalb County, IL, this would not be extremely surprising if this occurred in DeKalb County. However, these two families lived in a rural township in Fillmore County, Minnesota at the same exact time!
(Click on the images to view larger.)
In 1875, my 4th great-grandmother Lucy (Caul) Fish was living with her daughter and son-in-law in Sumner, Fillmore County, Minnesota. My cousins’ 4th great-grandfather, Moses Ousley, was listed just five houses away! Several of Moses’ children, including my cousin’s 3rd great-grandmother, were living in the same township. They were all farmers. The two families never intermarried, but they would have certainly known each other and may have socialized together. About 100 years later in DeKalb County, Moses’ 3rd great-grandson would marry my aunt, who was Lucy (Caul) Fish’s 3rd great-granddaughter!
I know a little bit about the Fish family, and how they ended up in Sumner, Minnesota. My 4th great-grandmother, Lucy (Caul) Fish was a pioneer woman as a young woman. She was born in New York in 1803, and grew up in New York or Ohio. She married my 4th great-grandfather, Lathrop G. Fish, in Ohio in 1824. They had four children in Ohio, and then moved to Michigan in about 1836-1837. The family prospered in Michigan, adding two more children, and purchased pieces of land to grow their farm every few years. Lathrop was elected Overseer of the Highways in 1842 and Director of the Poor in 1843. In about 1845, they decided to continue moving west, and moved their family to Kane County, Illinois, and then to DeKalb County, Illinois. They had one more daughter in Kane County, and their farm prospered. Tragedy struck in 1866 when Lathrop died of an unnamed sickness. Lucy never remarried, and lived in the households of several of her children until her death in 1878. Her daughter, Rebecca, married John Lillie in about 1860. His family was from Canada, and they moved to Fillmore County by 1857. The Lillie family was one of the earliest settlers in the township, arriving within the first five years of its settlement. Rebecca also moved to Sumner Township, Fillmore County when she married John Lillie. In 1875, her mother Lucy Fish and her brother Cyrus Fish happened to be living with them on their farm. Lucy likely died at their home in 1878. Some of her other children and their descendants remained in DeKalb County for generations.
Like the Fish family, Moses Ousley also originated from back east, and moved his family west as a young man. He was born in Clinton County, Ohio in 1819, and married Nancy Ann Moon in 1845. They lived for several years in Clinton County, then moved to Indiana soon after Nancy died in 1853. He married Maria Ballinger in 1854 in Miami County, Indiana. By 1865, they had moved the family, which now had seven children, to Minnesota. They settled first in Houston County, then in Fillmore County, where they were living in 1875. His daughter, Mary Emily Ousley, married William Davidson in 1867. William was also a farmer in Sumner in 1875, listed on the next page in the census. The Ousley/Davidson families continued to disperse through the generations. Some continued to move west, and some settled in Wisconsin. Their descendants didn’t live in DeKalb County until about 1945.
The two families wouldn’t cross paths again until 1967! What a lucky find, which was found by simply checking out the neighbors on the census records!
Lesson learned: Looking for your ancestors in the census? Don’t forget to look at their neighbors!
One of my favorite photos from my family history is actually a set of photos. My grandparents, Ed Drake and Millie Kaiser, were out on the town and visited a photo booth. This set of tiny photos are the photos that were taken there! When I asked my grandmother about them, she said they must have been taken when a fair came to town. They both look so happy, and you can see some of the mischief in my grandfather’s face. He could always make us laugh. I remember both of them that way. I love these photos because although I knew them later in life, I can see that they had the same spirit when they were younger, too.
Two of the photos were placed into tiny frames, and the other three were in my grandmother’s military photo album. I think these were taken about the same time that Millie joined the Navy WAVES, about 1944. I’m guessing that Ed kept the two framed snapshots with him while Millie was away. Millie kept the other three with her while she was in Florida. They would be married about two years later.
What are some of your favorite old family photos?
Interview with Mildred (Kaiser) Drake, conducted by Eva Weil, 2015.
M. Kaiser WAVES scrapbook, Drake-Kaiser family photos, 1944-1946.
Drake-Kaiser family photos, private collection, ca. 1900-2010.
Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the day for family, food and traditions! At our feast today, we made pies with my Nana’s pie crust, Papa’s pumpkin pie filling, my Mom’s Cranberry Apple pie filling, and a ten-year-old cousin’s mincemeat recipes. We also had my aunt’s casseroles, traditional cranberry relish and my sister-in-law’s baked macaroni. It all came together into a delicious feast!
I recently came across this photograph of my great-grandmother Dorothy (Mueller) Jordan making a turkey dinner in the 1950’s! Her small turkey likely fed only her family of four. It was taken in their house in Seattle, Washington, probably on Thanksgiving. Dorothy is hard at work!