Family History’s Mysteries

My mother’s mother’s side of my family is chock full of mystery. I have been able to learn only a little about that side of my family. They originated in Germany and that’s about all I know. At some time in around 1873, Frederick Muethel married Minnie Archer.

Frederick Muethel was my Great-Grandfather, or perhaps my Great-Great-grandfather. I have my doubts about that as his ‘daughter’, Edna; my grandmother was almost twenty years younger than August, her ‘brother’, was.

There was ‘sister’ named Clara, but she vanishes from the family record sometime between the census year 1880 and 1900. She appears once in a Detroit City Directory as a domestic in 1897, so she really vanished between 1897 and 1900. I have no idea if she died, married or simply moved to another city. She just vanished. I believe that she died because the entry for her mother Minnie says that Minnie was the mother of three children, two of which are living. So why can’t I find a death certificate for Clara? Is it because I am looking in Detroit or Michigan for someone who died in Ontario? That’s possible, I suppose, but she was in Detroit in 1897, according to the City directory. Did she die under another name? Again, that’s possible, but without knowing what that name is, I can’t find the record. It’s all so frustrating but that’s what this hobby of family history is all about, finding and solving little mysteries like this one.

Using the Detroit City Directories, I traced Frederick to 1871, when he was “bds n.s. Maple bet Jos. Campau and McDougall aves”. I believe that ‘bds’ means that he boarded there. I admit that the ‘n.s.’ has me a bit puzzled. It may simply mean that the Directory didn’t have a street address for him. I do know that at least two other people lived there – Henry Muethel and Joseph Muethel. You can learn a lot from those City Directories.

Frederick died 22 November 1900 from apoplexy and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. All I know, for certain about him, is that he died in Detroit, he was a cigar maker and his wife was born Minnie Archer. Almost everything else that I know about him is either conjecture or calculated.

This family had its share of tragedy. Minnie Muethel lost her daughter, Clara, sometime between 1897 and 1900. She lost her husband in 1900. She lost her son, August, in 1904 when he committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid. He must have been very unhappy.

Minnie and Edna were left alone after that. They do not resurface in the records until 1910, when Edna married my grandfather, Neil McTaggart. Another gap in the records occurs until the 1920 Census, which shows Minnie was living with my grandparents. My grandparents divorced in 1924, when my mother was three years old. Edna married Charles S. Harger in 1925 and she, her new husband and her mother, vanish again from the records. I have not been able to find a trace of them in the 1930 Census. They may have left Detroit for some other city in Michigan or elsewhere. I will find them. I am still on the hunt.

WordPress Tags: Family History,Elmwood Cemetery,History,Muethel,Archer,census,Detroit,death,Michigan,Ontario,hobby,Cemetery,husband,McTaggart,Harger,grandparents


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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