Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - George Cloos

Earlier this week I posted about the genealogy community and how helpful they are. To briefly recap, my sister posted a message to the message boards for Macon County, Illinois, a request for an obituary look-up and a kind researcher offered to go find my great grandfather's obit! This request was to be filled in a few weeks as the researcher had surgery recently and wasn't yet released to roam!

Well, yesterday afternoon, this awesome stranger went to the Decatur Public Library and found George Cloos' 1947 obituary and sent the transcription of it! We were so happy to get it and it not only answered some mysteries, but also added a few more possibly. My great grandfather wasn't apparently as mysterious as we believed and that might very well be that my dad didn't really know much about him. I do know from my grandmother's medical records, that the State Mental System did know of him and how to contact him, therefore, George knew that Lola was in the system.

I knew from my research that George had a sister Kate and that she had several children, including a daughter, Emma Sowers. A few weeks ago, I began to search for Emma as I hadn't found her in 1900, and I found what I thought was her living with a family named Hennings (or Henninager or Henninges - all spellings I have encounter).  Emma was a young girl about 13 years old listed on the 1900 census as the granddaughter of the head of household - Wm. G. Henninager. William's wife was Elizabeth and one of their children was a son named Rolf.  Yes, they were German. I printed that out and wrote notes on it and filed it away. I came across it early yesterday when I was trying to organize stuff.

I also had seen the name "Lena Cloos" pop up in a few newspaper articles on and in a few, both Lena and Emma were mentioned in the same articles. I felt Lena was connected somehow, but just couldn't pinpoint it, that is, until receiving a transcription of George's obituary! Here's the transcription.

George Cloos, Former Foundry Worker Dies

George Cloos, 2312 East Main Street, a resident of Decatur since 1882, died at his home at 10:55 a. m. today after a long illness.

Mr. Cloos was born in Germany Dec. 23, 1872, and came to the United States and Decatur 10 years later. He was an employee of the Union Iron Works for 27 years, retiring in 1941 because of ill health.

He was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the International Association of Machinists, and the German Lutheran church.

Mr. Cloos was married twice, the second time in August, 1925 to Miss Grace M. Abel of Decatur.

He leaves his wife; four children by his first marriage, Mrs. Bessie Trump of Alton, Mrs. Lola Robinson and Wells Cloos of Huntington Park, Calif., and George Cloos of Libertyville.

He also leaves two stepdaughters, Mrs. Mary Beckham of Boody and Mrs. Catherine Kessler of Decatur; two half-brothers, Roy and Ralph Hennings of Bloomington; and two sisters, Mrs. Louise Allen and Mrs. Lena Morgan of California.

The body was taken to the Monson funeral home where services will be held at 3 p. m. Monday. Burial will be in Mt. Gilead cemetery. Friends may call at Monson’s after 3 p. m. tomorrow.

Decatur Daily Herald
June 28, 1947 – Page 8

The obituary answered a few questions I had, and has now given me a few new avenues to research. I knew that my great great grandmother was Elisabeth and Elizabeth Henninager was the grandmother of Emma Sowers in 1900. I knew the mysterious Lena Cloos must somehow be connected and there she was in George's obit as his sister! The obit also mentions another sister I had never heard of or prior to this, Louise. I did find a death record in the California Death Index for Louise Allen. Her father's name was Cloos and she died in San Diego (either the city or the county - I'm not sure yet) in 1955. I shall order Louise's death certificate tomorrow and I hope that it will list a child as the informant! I haven't yet found Lena Cloos Morgan but shall continue to search for her.

The other strong clue I got was the surviving half brother Ralph Hennings. I did find a death record of him. He died four months after George in Illinois and his mother's maiden name was Groshauser. That was also Louise's mother's maiden name. On George's death certificate, it lists his mother as Elisabeth Graushausen. I also found a Roy Hennings on He died in 1956 and is buried in Bloomington, IL. Like a good mystery novel, the plot just thickens when you're researching your family history not really knowing much to begin with! Certainly there will be much more to come on the Cloos family.

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