Please excuse my absence; I had been on vacation for most of last week. :)
Gard Cyrus Witherell was the first son of Gard (the first ancestor for this challenge) and Lillian WITHERELL. He was born 21 Oct 1882 in Saginaw, Michigan (1). He has a younger brother named Ostrom who was born in 1885.
As mentioned before, Lillian died in 1895, when Gard was only 13 (2). I’m sure that was a hard thing to watch: having your mother be very ill for a few years and then suddenly be gone from your life. I often wonder how that affected him in the years to come.
The first record I have is for the 1900 census. At the age of 17 he was living with his father, brother, and grandmother in Saginaw, Michigan (3).
Between 1905 and 1906, Gard met and married Fannie McGRIFF. In 1908, their first son, my great-grandfather Glenn, was born. They had two more sons following that: Jack and Thomas. In the 1910 census, they were living as a family (minus Thomas who wasn’t born yet) with Gard’s father also living there under the name of Chas (4)
In 1919, tragedy struck again. The flu epidemic struck Saginaw, Michigan and Fannie died. According to her obituary, she died of pneumonia following influenza (5). I don’t think Gard ever recovered from this and I think it’s one of the reasons for his estrangement from his his son, Glenn, later in life.
He is seen still with his sons in the 1920 census (6). By 1924, in the Saginaw City Directory, he is seen listed as a brakeman with Glenn living with him as he was only 16 at the time and able to work (therefore he was listed in the directory) (7). Since Glenn was only 16 and his two younger brothers were still at home, I assume they all lived together in 1924.
In the 1930 census he became a lodger and worked as an elevator man for a hospital(8). By that time Glenn, his oldest son, was living with his wife and newly born son. In the album created by my great-grandma for my grandpa (the newly born son I just mentioned) there are NO pictures of Gard and him. There is the picture I posted that states that is his grandfather but if he did come to see his new grandson, there are no pictures of the event.
In the 1940 census, Gard is living by himself and is back to being a railroad conductor. He lives by Hoyt Park actually and owns his home (9). The address seems odd on the record, labeling it as “Paver Front Conter St. E Webber” so I looked it up in the city directory – it is a houseboat (10). I wondered about that as it was a family rumor that was where he spent the last few years of his life.
Oddly, in 1942, he filled out the World War II registration card (the old man draft I believe it is called) and lists a familiar to me address (11). This address is the one my great-grandparents lived in until they moved in with my grandparents. The 1940 census does not have Glenn and Erma (my great-grandparents) living there at the time but maybe by 1942, they were. It makes me wonder if Glenn and Gard had started to reconcile near the end of Gard’s life as he was able to use his son’s address as his permanent address.
On 26 March 1952, Gard dies from drowning. It’s an interesting article (12):
River Yields Body of Man
The Saginaw River today yielded the body of a man believed to be a 67-year-old houseboat resident, missing for a week.
Police think the body may be that of Gard Witherell, who lived on a houseboat near the Center Street bridge. He was last seen Thursday and was reported missing Monday. The body was found near the east bank of the river between Williamson and Center shortly after noon.
Following that article, the next day there is simply this line in the section labeled death’s (13):
Gard C. Witherell, 69, Saginaw.
Family rumor has it that something happened between the sons. Jack died very young, only 22 and Tom was the star athlete in the family. Glenn took care of his father but his son, my grandpa, did not know who this man was. Grandpa told me he remembers a man coming to the house and his dad giving him money or food. He remembers going to a house on the river and how he stayed in the car while his dad went inside. It seems like there was still love there but the fact that my grandfather did not know his grandfather indicates a family rift that was never healed. How Gard died is also a family rumor. Yes, he drowned, but the family rumor is that he was murdered for gambling debts. I have yet to come across anything that supports that rumor but I also wouldn’t know how to actively look for that. Nothing in the paper suggested that the police suspected foul-play when they found his body so if it was something more than a drowning, it was never looked into. It may be one of those things that I’ll never know.
1) “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), card for Gard Cyrus Witherell, no. 1671, Saginaw, Michigan Draft Board 1; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives microfilm publication M1509; imaged from Family History Library film roll 1,682,809.
2) Lillie Witherell obituary, Saginaw Evening News, Saginaw Michigan, 10 June 1895, page 7.
3) 1900 U.S. Census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Saginaw Ward 15, ED 71, SD 8, sheet 4A (penned), 162 (stamped), dwelling 71, family 74, Gard Witherell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 740.
4) 1910 U.S. Census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Saginaw Ward 1, ED 47, SD 3, sheet 26A (penned), 26 (stamped), dwelling 503, family 528, Gard Witherell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 672
5) Fanny M. Witherell obituary, Saginaw News Courier, Saginaw, Michigan, 29 Jan 1919, page 12.
6) 1920 U.S. Census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Saginaw Ward 4, ED 177, SD 8, sheet 10A (penned), 95 (stamped), dwelling 221, family 246, Gard Witherell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 793.
7) Polk’s Saginaw Directory 1924 (Detroit, Michigan : R.L. Polk & Co., 1924), 727, entry for “Witherell, Gard”; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014).
8) 1930 U.S. Census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Saginaw Ward 8, ED 73-35, SD 9, sheet 14A (penned) 108 (stamped), dwelling 290, family 287, Gard Witherell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 1022.
9) 1940 U.S. Census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Saginaw Ward 11, ED 73-47A, SD 8, sheet 1A (penned) 918 (stamped), line 17, Gard Witherell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 1813.
10) Polk’s Saginaw Directory 1940 (Detroit, Michigan : R.L. Polk & Co., 1940), 480, entry for “Witherell, Gard”; digital image, Public Libraries of Saginaw Saginaw City Directories (http://dtsearch.saginawlibrary.org : accessed 19 Jan 2014).
11) “United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 19 Jan 2014), card for Gard Cyrus Witherell, no. 1735.
12) “River Yields Body of Man,” Saginaw News, Saginaw, Michigan, 27 March 1952. page 39, column 1.
13) Gard Witherell, Saginaw News, Saginaw, Michigan, 28 March 1952, page 27, column 3.