Wednesday, November 6, 2013

William Meinzen - Wednesday's Child

I found William, age 8, in the 1880 U. S. census living with his parents, Henry and Elizabeth Minzen, a spelling variation of Meinzen.  After that he disappeared.  I thought perhaps he would be lost forever. 
And then this brief sentence came to light in the Friday, November 30, 1888, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Gazette.  "William, son of Henry Minser, died at his home on North Eighth Street Saturday evening, of typhoid fever, aged sixteen years."

Could this be Henry and Elizabeth's son, William?  The spelling of the surname for this William is wrong, but then I've found so many spelling variations, misspellings, and typographical errors in the newspapers that I'm ready to claim him.  Other indications that this is my William:
  • On the 1880 U.S. Census, William was recorded as age 8, therefore born in 1872.  The ages coordinate.
  • The location aligns with where Henry and his family lived at the time of William's death.  Henry bought property on North Eighth Street, Steubenville, in April, 1873, which he later sold in February, 1892.  Additionally, the 1880 U.S. Census records Henry and Elizabeth living on North 8th Street.
  • Union Cemetery records indicate that William Meinzen, 1872-1888, is buried with other family members in Section Q, Lot 203.

Not long ago my cousin, Joyce Humprey, took photographs of Meinzen grave markers at Union Cemetery and gave me permission to post them.  (Thank you, Joyce.)  At left is young William's marker.

Based on all this information, I would say that the William in the news article above is my William Meinzen and that he died of typhoid fever on November 24, 1888.

Typhoid fever is caused by a salmonella bacteria and is spread through contaminated food or water or contact with people who have the fever.  Symptoms include high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhea.  Did William's mother realize that he had typhoid fever?  What would have been the method of dealing with a fever in those days?  Wrap the sufferer in blankets?  I'm sure she cared for him based on the knowledge she had and with a mother's love.  There were no antibiotics in those days and probably little recourse other than to pray and hope that he would recover.

This William Meinzen is not to be confused with my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen.  My grandfather, born in 1892, was one of those people who was named after a deceased sibling, a tradition common in the past in some cultures.  Grampa was usually called Bob or Robert so there would have been no confusion.  I remember Grampa saying that he had a brother named William.  The adults around him couldn't understand why his parents would give two children the same name.  I can't remember Grampa's response.

This post is in memory of William Meinzen, my great-uncle.


Copyright © 2013, NDM & My Ancestors and Me


  1. I would claim William as mine too if I had that evidence.

  2. I think you found him. I'm so glad you did. Everyone should be remembered.



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