Thursday, November 12, 2009

Uncle Jacob Meinzen

The young man on the left is Jacob Increase Meinzen, son of Henry C. and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen. He was born in December, 1893. The man on the right is my grandfather, William Carl Robert "Bob" Meinzen. He was born in February, 1892. They are brothers. I wonder if they were good friends. Did they play together as little boys?

There were no family stories about Uncle Jacob, no memories passed along. I know nothing of his childhood and early life, but I know a little about his adult years.

In early September, 1916, when he was 22, he married a young lady named Sudie Coss. At the time they married, they were living in Steubenville, Ohio. Jacob worked as a pipe fitter and Sudie was a pottery worker.

Their wedding photograph is at left. I think it's an interesting photo. Not like wedding photos these days, is it? Sudie looks, perhaps, a little nervous, maybe uncertain. Jacob, on the other hand, looks pleased, I think. Perhaps Sudie was the woman of his dreams?

The following year, at the end of May, 1917, a daughter, Elizabeth, was born to them.

And then, on September 15, 1917, tragedy struck. A local newspaper, "The Steubenville Weekly Gazette," reported on September 20 that Jacob was "engaged in pipe fitting on the top of one of the giant furnaces" at La Belle Iron Works when "he was seen suddenly to fall from his position on a ladder and descend to the ground with terrific speed." "He dropped . . . over 100 feet and was horribly crushed."

When I first saw this article, I imagined the responses of his parents and his wife upon hearing about the accident. His parents had already lost four adult children. Seeing it in print almost felt like a sock in the chest - as though I was reading about a living uncle that I personally knew. How sad I felt when I first learned - and how sad I continue to feel when I think of Uncle Jacob's life cut short at such a young age, when I think about his young wife suddenly a widow with an infant.

Looking at the postcard of La Belle Iron Works, I try to imagine where Uncle Jacob was. Can we see the giant furnaces in this photograph? And how far is 100 feet? It's easy to measure it on the ground but it's another matter - for me, at least - to move the distance from horizontal to perpendicular. Doing a little research, it seems that a building 13 stories high is about 100 feet from the ground. Ohhhhhh.

Sudie later remarried a widower with children, Tom Park, and together they had children. With the help of Aunt Dot's memory and some diligent searching and deduction, I was able to locate Sudie and her daughter Elizabeth and their new family on census records, then in city directories and the SSDI, until I was finally able to find Elizabeth, with her married name, and get in touch with her. Elizabeth was more than generous in giving me two photographs of her father and the wedding photograph of her parents. They are treasures.

I know that Uncle Jacob is not one of my direct ancestors. Part of my interest in genealogy and family history is gathering families together again. They start out together then grow to adulthood and leave home, often starting their own families. Finding the adult children of my ancestors feels like going full circle to me - to put them back with their parents - and at the same time, of course, bringing their spouses and children into the family circle.

My grandfather must have been devastated when his brother Jacob died in such a horrible accident. Jacob's whole family must have grieved for a very long time. While I still feel sorry for his death, I'm grateful to have found him. I'm grateful to be able to bring him alive, if only in my own memory....


  1. Wow, they are 23 months apart. I wonder if William Carl Robert and Jacob looked alike when they were both young. Such a sad story of how he died.

  2. Hi Nancy,
    I was interested in your blog about Jacob and William Meinzen. My name is Timothy Meinzen and I suspect there is a relation here. My great, great, know, emigrated to Defiance Ohio in 1972. His name was Willem Meinzen. Were they cousins? I don't know. At any rate my email is


  3. Good morning~ I am granddaughter of Sudie Coss Meinzen Park. I was surprised to see Jacob Meinzen in print. All I know of him is he died young and he was the father of Elizabeth. She is still living at the age of about 94. I have never seen the photo of Jacob & Sudie on their wedding day- so precious. I do not descend from Jacob but I am interested in his life story. Thank you for posting all of this. He was a very handsome young man, so tragic to die so young. The name Armitage is found here where I now live in Smith township of Mahoning county Ohio. I am not related to them. You presented Jacobs brief life very nicely. I feel like I know him now. Gloria

  4. Hi, Gloria. How nice to hear from you. Thank you for your kind comments. There are several other posts about Jacob. If you want to see them you can use the search box on the left sidebar of this blog.

    I was in touch with Elizabeth but the last time I wrote, my letter was returned. I didn't know if she'd passed away or if she'd moved. Do you have contact with her? If so, please give her my regards.

    It's interesting that there are Armitages in Mahoning County. I wonder if they are related to "my" Armitages.

    Thanks again for your kind words. I appreciate them.

  5. Hi Nancy, Aunt Elizabeth is still living and will be 97on May 29th. She is in a nursing home in Louisville, Ohio living close to her youngest daughter Mary Jane. She does not know anyone any more.
    She was Grandma Sudies first born and the last of all Grandmas children to be living. I have been looking at your blog site and it is beyond awesome. You have done a super job with the information. I was truly fascinated reading thru all that I read. Grandma Sudie married Thomas J. Park and that brought 4 children together. One from Grandma and 3 from Grandpa. Together they had 6 more, among them my mother Melva. I proud to say my grandparents were the sweetest, most generous Christian people I have ever known. I miss them dearly. Thank you for your wonderful site. May God richly bless you and your family~ Gloria~

    1. Hi, Gloria. I hope you come back to read this comment or subscribed to comments. Your Aunt Elizabeth was so very helpful and generous to me when I first began searching for my grandfather's siblings. The photos I have of Jacob came from her. How sad that her memory has failed. I hope she shared lots of her memories in earlier times.

      My only living Meinzen aunt remembers Aunt Sudie and Uncle Tom very fondly. Even though Sudie was only a Meinzen by marriage and her husband died, I think it says a lot about her that she kept contact with the Meinzens -- which let Elizabeth know them. My aunt tried to contact Elizabeth a few years ago and didn't get a response. She may have already been losing her memory by then.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog and your wish for His blessings. I appreciate them. (He does bless us richly!) I wish the same for you.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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