My grandfather Henry Johnson was quite old when I remembered him and since he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, he called my father Victor. I knew that Victor was his brother who had died quite young in life. So that is how my hunt started, with two brothers, Victor and Henry Johnson.
Marriage records told me that Henry was born in Nebraska. Born in 1884 created quite a few problems. Not very many records can be found of early Nebraska prior to 1905 and without the 1890 United States Census, the trail was quite cold. I was able to find some pictures and letters that my grandmother had kept in a box. Quite luckily, she was very meticulous about writing dates and names on the back of her pictures. When looking through the letters, a letter from a sister, Lena Hull was found; but my grandmother did not have a sister named Lena. A quick call to my parents with a question revealed that they do remember a sister; in fact there were two sisters Mabel and Lena and another brother, Floyd that they were now able to recall.
The trail grew warm since the letter from Lena mentioned her children. A little digging and quite a few calls led to another Johnson descendent that had more information. Earl Hull told me of his grandfather, whom had stayed with the Hulls when Earl was a child. The story involved his grandmother, Annie who had married John Johnson in Nebraska. Both John and Annie had come to Nebraska from Sweden. Earl told me “Annie was a Morell”. The story continued that Annie had seven children when she died in childbirth to her eighth child, who also died. The death of Annie was devastating to the family and basically broke up the family. The two youngest children, Guy and Mamie where adopted away and I have yet to find out what really happened to the others from 1888 to 1910. Earl also told me that John was put on a train and sent to Montana and was never heard from again.
The next big breakthrough was in finding John and Annie in the 1880 Nebraska Census along with Victor and Mabel. With pure luck they were living with Hans Johnson, his mother Kate and Oliver Johnson. They were all together in Leigh, Colfax County, Nebraska. I now had found the genealogical perpetual question syndrome: with one finding creates many more new questions to require many more hours of research. A search of the 1900 Nebraska census found Hans Johnson in Dawson County with brother Oliver and mother Christina. In this census, Christina indicated that she had four children and only three were still alive. I figured that John had two brothers Hans and Oliver and his mother was Christine or Kate.
My notes from Earl indicated that John was sent to a home for the elderly in Columbus, Montana. A call to the Stillwater County Clerk found the death record of John. I immediately sent for his death certificate to see if it would give me any new information, unfortunately, it didn’t.
I then worked to track down Annie Morell. Earl had mentioned that Annie had at least two sisters. Mary Malmsten who was living in Vancouver, Washington in 1911 and another sister Carrie who lived in Gothenburg, Nebraska. With the assistance of Mrs Jordening of the Dawson County Historical Society, I was able to find an obituary for Carrie Morell, who was actually married to Charles Morell, a prominent citizen of Gothenburg. The obituary led me to Oakland, Nebraska where I found Annies father, Andrew Morell was one of the original settlers of Oakland and one of its prominent citizens as well. Their family was very well documented except for Annie. The will of Andrew Morell (received from David Grover, Apache Junction, AZ) indicated that Annie died on or around March 1st, 1888.