2. Wetherall-Baldwin-Van Houton

Children of William Riley Wetherall and Ida Mae Baldwin

Children of William Riley Wetherall and Nellie Marie Van Houton

Table 2   William R. Wetherall's families with Ida Mae (Baldwin) Wetherall and Nellie Marie (Van Houton) Wetherall
Notes Name Birth Death Age Born Died Relics Vocation
T4 0 William Riley Wetherall 2 May 1890 4 Jul 1936 46 Knoxville IA Knoxville IA Graceland Cem IA Printer
4 Ida Mae (Baldwin) c Mar 1890 2 Apr 1923 32/33 Corbin KY Orofino ID Woodlawn Cem ID Stenographer
1 William Bascom Wetherall 25 Mar 1911 19 Jun 2013 102 Ames IA Nevada City CA Sierras Attorney
0 Nellie Marie (Van Houton) (Sailors) 12 Nov 1898 2 Sep 1966 67 Des Moines IA Banning CA Riverside CA Seamstress
2 Mary Arleen (Van Ryswyk) (Wells) 13 Oct 1922 10 Sep 2016 93 Des Moines IA Indianola, IA Pleasantville, IA
3 Warren Henry Wetherall 2 Jan 1925 3 Nov 1999 74 Des Moines IA Banning CA Riverside CA Postman
4 Helen Anne (Morrison) 11 Jan 1928 14 Aug 2002 74 Des Moines IA Luck WI
5 Marjorie Jeanne (Thomas) 3 Jul 1933 12 Nov 2001 68 Des Moines IA Banning, CA
Wetherall siblings Warren, Mary, Helen, and Marge Wetherall circa 1943
Mary Wells Family photo (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)
Wetherall siblings Helen Morrison, Bill Wetherall, and Mary Van Ryswyk
Wetherall siblings in Dainty living room at 1958 Iowa reunion
Missing only Warren Wetherall and Majorie Thomas
Photo by Billy Wetherall in Wetherall Family Collection
Wetherall siblings Mary, Marjorie, Warren, and Helen later in life
Mary Wells Family photo (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)
  1. William R. Wetherall married Ida Mae Baldwin in Seward, Nebraska on 1 June 1910. Their marriage portrait survives in a frame of a Seward, Nebraska photography studio. The 1925 census also states that they were married in Seward, Nebraska. Their Nebraska marriage certificate states that Ida was residing in Seward at the time, probably with her older sister Lydia, aad her husband Charley Anstine and children. When and where William R. and Ida met remains unclear (see below).
  2. William B. Wetherall grew up in several families of relatives -- in Idaho, Iowa, and even Nebraska -- before graduating from high school in 1928 (see 2.1 below).
  3. William R. Wetherall (presumably) divorced Ida Mae by 1921, when he seems to have married Nellie Marie Van Houton of Des Moines, Iowa.
    He and Nellie met at the People's Popular Monthly, where he was a typesetter and she a proofreader. They had four children before his death in 1936.
    In 1943, Nellie married Carl Racine Riley Sailors, of Knoxville, but he died in 1945 and presumably is buried in Knoxville. Nellie, however, is buried in California, where two of her children had settled (see below).
  4. Mary Arleen Wetherall married James Milfred Van Ryswyk in Knoxville, Iowa on 15 March 1942.
    Mary's middle name was supposed to be "Arlene" but was misspelled on her birth certificate and the family lived with it.
    Mary and James had three Children (see 4.2 below).
  5. Warren graduated from Knoxville High School in 1943. He settled in Banning, California, where he died of cancer. As he had served in the Army during World War II, he was buried at Riverside National Cemetery in California. Warren was survived by all four of his siblings, and by his daughter, Kathleen A. Wetherall, who was also living in Banning.
  6. Helen's middle name may have been "Ann" rather than "Anne". She had a son out of wedlock, William Henry Wetherall, who became William Henry Morrison when she married Loren Morrison, who adopted him. And she and Lorean had a daughter, Rae Jeanne.
    William Henry Wetherall (1946-1997), fathered by a man she didn't marry. Loren adopted William, who became a mercenary soldier in Zimbabwe. William Henry Morrison of a heart attack in Harare, Zimbabwe. He was cremated and his ashes were disposed of there.
    Helen and Loren divorced after Rae Jeanne finished her schooling and left home. Loren later remarried Rae Jeanne's mother-in-law.
    Helen died in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
  7. Majorie's middle name was "Jeanne" -- not "Jeane" or "Jean". Its spelling on a a high school graduation name card was "Jeanne", which is also the spelling on a Social Security Death Index. "Marge" as she was generally known married Virgil Thomas, and they later lived, and she died, in Banning, California. They had no children.

The Wetherall-Van Houton family and Mickey

WRW William R. Wetherall Nellie Nellie M. Wetherall Mary Warren Helen Warren, Helen, Mary Mary Warren Helen Marge Mary Warren Helen Marge, Helen

Wetherall-Van Houton family with dog Mickey when Marge was 2 years old, circa 1935
The image on the right is Mary Sue Van Ryswyk's scan of Dainty Family album photo
The other four images are my scans of Wetherall Family photos

William Riley Wetherall and his wife Nellie (Van Houton) Marie Wetherall -- my paternal grandfather and step-grandmother -- take turns sitting in what appears to be the same lawn chair partly shaded by nearby trees. Their children, who would be my half-aunts and half-uncle, are sitting in unshaded parts of a yard by the same trees. The family includes a dog named Mickey.

William and Nellie (Van Houton) Wetherall in lawn chair with Mickey

Of the very few photographs of William Riley Wetherall and Nellie, my paternal grandfather and step-grandmother, these are my favorites. In other photographs of them, they are with their children or relatives. These two studies suggest that they were alone, just the two of them, alone with a camera, a chair, and a dog, oblivious to the presence of their children.

This is not a farmer, rowboat, chicken, corn, and fox joke. One wasn't going to walk away with the camera even if the other didn't sit in the chair. Or walk away with the chair even if the other held the camera and minded the dog. Or maybe the dog was minding its master, or one or another of its senses.

At most they negotiated who was going to sit first while the other shot the picture.

I imagine they also gave some thought as to how to sit. Looking straight at the camera would not have been interesting. This was an occasion for a study, not a snapshot.

Even Mickey took a cue and looked the opposite direction. Or maybe the set-up was Mickey's idea. "Let's do something artistic, guys. Ignore the camera."

Mickey may be standing rear guard. Or perhaps his bladder is urging him to bolt for the nearest tree as soon as he hears the shutter. Or possibly he's scoping another dog and wondering whether to sniff her out. Whatever his thoughts, I'm betting he was Nellie's.

The composition is cramped on the left, suggesting a failure to compensate for lateral viewfinder biases.

Wetherall-Van Houton children with Mickey

William R.'s sleeves are rolled up in the sun but Nellie prefers the shade. Like the children, her arms are bare, unlike Nellie, the children, especially Warren and Helen, look very brown.

Provenance of photographs

The photographs appear to have been taken on the same occasion, probably during the the summer or early fall of 1935, perhaps in the yard of the home where the Wetherall-Van Houton family was living in Audubon, Iowa. The family had moved to Audubon from Des Moines in 1931. The 3 oldest children -- Mary, Warren, and Helen -- were born in Des Moines in 1923, 1925, and 1928. The youngest, Marge, was born in Audubon in 1933. Their father, William Riley Wetherall, died in Audubon in 1936.

A note penciled on the back of the photo showing Warren with Mickey beside Helen and Mary reads "Mary, Helen and Warren." A note in the same hand, on the back of the shot of Marge with Mickey, says "Marjorie Jeane [sic] Wetherall / 2 yrs. old / also "Mickey". The handwriting is not my father's (William R. Wetherall's son William B. Wetherall), but is possibly Laura Wetherall's (WRW's mother, WBW's grandmother), if not Alice (Wetherall) Dainty's (WRW's sister, WBW's aunt).


William Riley Wetherall (WRW)

William Riley Wetherall was second child and first son of William Franklin Wetherall (WFW) and Laura Belle (Beaman) Wetherall. He thus inherited the name "William" that his paternal grandfather, William Edwin Wetherall (WEW), appears to have inherited from his own father. The "Riley" namesake is uncertain, though possibly it is someone on Laura Belle's side of the family.

But who was Willim Riley? His son, William Bascom, told this writer, his own son William Owen, very little about his father, except that he was a printer, was a good man, and did his best under the circumstances. The questions I should have asked my father didn't occur to me until after he died, when I discovered that Mary Wells, the oldest of his four younger siblings, was still alive in Carlisle, Iowa.

Born Mary Arleen Wetherall, Mary was Van Ryswyk when I met her and some other Wetherall relatives in Knoxville and Carlisle, Iowa in the summer of 1958, during the only trip the California Wetherall-Hardman family would ever make back to Iowa. My interests then, at 17, were not in family history. I remember being overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar names and places, which we had never heard of before, and would hear little or nothing about afterward.

Only in hindsight do I realize how difficult it was for my father to make that trip in 1958, three decades after he had left Iowa -- and how difficult it must have been for him to never make another.

WRW at composing table William R. Wetherall at composing table, circa early 1930s
Wetherall Family photo
Sawada 1953 Setting up the Babcock, with a 2-page spread on the composition table in the foreground. The process requires a deft touch and infinite patience. "You're running a thin sheet of newsprint through cast iron machinery," says pressman Jim Daggs.
Leslie C. McManus

Image and caption copped from Leslie C. McManus, "Antique Press Powered by Live Steam: Printers' Hall recreates a working print shop with a Babcock cylinder press", Farm Collector, September 2009

William R. Wetherall the printer

As soon as I saw the above photograph, I knew I was looking at a composition table in a print shop. The father of a boy I ran around with in the last neighborhood I lived in when growing up in San Francisco had a print shop in his garage. I was enrolled in the printing class at A.P. Gianinni, the Sunset District, junior high school, at the time we moved to Grass Valley in the spring of 1955, and that summer I had a part-time job packaging Christmas cards at the print shop partly owned by my father's law partner. And in high school, I spent some time in the press room of the local newspaper, where a classmate worked. If you had asked me, then, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I well might have said a printer.

At the time, I knew nothing about my father's family, much less that his father had been a printer by trade. Even when sorting out the family photos the first time in the 1970s, and the second time in the 1990s, I wasn't sure who the man in this photo was. Could he have been my dad's father? My mother, who took the time to answer such questions, thought it might be but she wasn't sure. My father, when finally I got him to comment on the pictures of people on his side, said it was his father, probably in the early 1930s, but that's as far as he could speculate. My mother had never met her father-in-law, who had died a couple of years before she and my father married. And as children, we never met his family until 1958, and then only once.

If you wonder what those hammers are for -- the ball-peen hammer in the foreground, the mallet closer to hand -- they are for pounding, of course. Once the type has been locked into a chase, the faces of all the pieces of type need be leveled so that they are flush with the plane of the printing -- the plane where the paper and type, after inking, meet -- on a flat-bed press or letter press.

You begin with the text of the matter to be printed, and a design -- fonts, sizes, layout and the like. You select type from a case and set it in a composing stick, letter by letter, including spaces and punctuation, and you break and space lines as required. The type in the composing stick is then transferred to a galley to be tied up -- literally with a string after confirmation that everything is properly configured. At this point, proofs can be pulled from the tied-up type and changes made as required. The tied-up parts of a larger page are placed into a chase, the metal frame that is mounted on the press. When the page is laid out or made up in the chase, the parts or blocks of type are untied, and various kinds of spacers and locking devices are inserted between the blocks in order to lock up the type in the chase. At this point, too, proofs can be pulled and changes made.

Then comes the pounding. The proofs will show which pieces of type are too high or too low relative to other pieces. The compositor places a piece of wood called a "planer" on the type to protect the type faces, and a mallet is used to pound on the board until the faces of all the type are even. That's what I picture my paternal grandfather doing in this picture. And I imagine he enjoyed his work, in the manner that most tradesmen seem to derive a certain kind of pleasure from their vocation.

Mary Well's account of her father

Here is how Mary Wells, at 90, conveyed to me her recollections of her father, William Riley Wetherall, through Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, her daughter-in-law. Mary Sue and her husband, Robert Van Ryswyk, Mary's second son, have been caring for Mary at an assisted living facility in Carlisle, where they also live.

Mary's remarks, in Mary Sue's words, were in response to questions I had asked Mary about her childhood memories. What was her father like? Did he come home from work with ink on his fingers? What was her mother Nellie like? Where and how did William R. die? How did the family survive the Depression after his death? And what did she remember about her older brother, William Bascum Wetherall?

The following account is a slightly reformated and edited version of email received from Mary Sue on 28 August 2013. The [bracketed] clarifications are mine.

William R. Wetherall setting type William R. Wetherall, printer
Setting type at Audubon, Iowa, circa 1933-1935
Mary (Wetherall) Wells Family photo
William R. Wetherall Advocate gang William R. Wetherall (left) and colleagues
With newspaper workmates, Audubon, Iowa, 1935
Mary (Wetherall) Wells Family photo
William R. Wetherall chicken farm William R. Wetherall's chicken farm
Farm rented in Knoxville, Iowa, early 1936
Mary (Wetherall) Wells Family photo

William Riley Wetherall

William Riley had dark auburn hair with brown eyes. He did come home with ink on his hands, which was extremely hard to remove. He moved Nellie, Mary, Warren, and Helen [from their home in Des Moines, Iowa] to Audubon in 1931 [1932]. [Marjorie was born in Audubon in 1933.].

He loved the newspaper/typesetting work but had to leave the trade due to lead poisoning from the ink, which resulted in heart problems. He did not pass away until after moving to a small acreage northwest of Knoxville, where he began raising chickens.

On July 4, 1936, after feeding the chickens, he fell outside the back door of the house due to a massive heart attack. Nellie sent Mary, age 12 [13], to the neighbors to call for the doctor but to no avail as William was dead when he fell. Mary said it was a very hot and dry summer day. Mary remembers her dad struggling to walk home from work in Audubon and being out of breath when he did.

Nellie worked for the WPA [Work Projects Administration] program in a factory sewing overalls. Later she took the census of the cemetery [in Knoxville] where she made more money [in another WPA program called Graves Registration Survey].

Mary had to quit school to care for the 3 younger siblings. All 4 went to school but when Mary was 16 she had to quit school and go to work. She still remembers how hard it was to tell her teacher, Mrs. Bonar, that she had to leave school. Mary went into homes doing housework and gave most of her pay to Nellie. It was a very difficult time for all of them.

Nellie's maiden name was Van Houten. She had black naturally curly hair and brown eyes. Helen was the only one to recieve the curls. Mary doesn't remember much happiness after her father died.

William Riley liked to joke and laugh. He and Mary would have water fights and chase each other around the yard. Whenever he wanted to drive their Model T car Mary would choke it while her dad cranked it. He would read the letters sent by your dad [William B. Wetherall] to the family when [they received] their evening mail. Mary loved hearing from her older brother.

William Riley's sisters, Sydna [Belle] and [Annetta] Alice both died of heat ailments. Alice and Belle both had reddish hair.

William Franklin Wetherall [William Riley's father] worked in the newspaper business too. He worked for the Knoxville Express [which was a] democratic paper. The Knoxville Journal was a republican paper.

Laura Beaman Wetherall [William Riley's mother] loved to dance and laugh and have fun. William F. [William Franklin Wetherall, William Riley's father] taught her to smoke a pipe during the long winter nights. Of course she wanted no one to know she smoked the pipe so she hid it in her bathrobe pocket and would smoke it while in the bathroom -- probably the outhouse. Mary remembers that her husband James Van Ryswyk really loved Laura and would dance with her. Laura was always full of fun.

One memory Mary has of William Franklin was his love of gardening. She chuckled as she told the story of Grandpa planting onions one day while his son Jerry [Jerry Alexander Wetherall]'s daughter, Betty Ruth [Betty Ruthe Wetherall], pulled them up as fast as WF could put them in the ground. When he finally turned around and saw what this 3 year old scamp was doing he laughed and laughed.

William B. Wetherall William B. Wetherall
Showing off muscles he built one summer in 1935 or 1936 while working in a CCC program to eradicate blister rust in white pine forests of eastern Idaho and western Montana
Mary Wells Family photo
(scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)

Early memories of William Bascom Wetherall

William B. Wetherall lived with his father and Nellie, and with three of his four younger siblings, while going to East High School in Des Moines from 1924-1928. Mary's recollections of "hearing from her older brother" refer to the period after Bill left Iowa to go to college in Idaho. during which he sent kept in touch with his Iowa family through letters and even photographs.

The well-worn photograph to the left survives in Mary's collection. It was probably taken during the summer of either 1935 or 1936 when Bill was working in blister rust control in a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project in white-pine forests in either Idaho or Montana. In 2010 he recalled that he had been working in blister rust eradication in Montana when his father, William Riley, died on 4 July 1936.

On the back of photo to the left he wrote (Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, email, 19 August 2013):

(There's) charcoal (around) my eyes. It helps break the glare of the sun. No fooling'.

Did Mary remember the days they lived together? According to her daughter-in-law, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk (email, 9 August 2013):

Mary said she can still remember your dad graduating from East High School [in Des Moines in 1928] and the day he left for Idaho. She can still see his image as he walked down the lane and she cried to see him go.

Separation exeriences

Our earliest memories are likely to be separation experiences. I clearly recall -- more vividly than any other early experience -- the day my father left me with a toy truck and a bag of Graham Crackers in the play yard of Notre Dame des Victoires (N.D.V) on my first day of kindergarten. The school was at 566 Bush Street between Grant and Stockton, and he would drive me there on his way to work until the beginning of school bus service from the avenues in the Sunset district on the other side of the city where we lived. The year was 1945 and I was 4 years old. I don't recall crying, but I know I felt very tense and anxious.

My daughter Saori was delighted to be left alone at kindergarten. She was the sort that wandered off by herself at zoos and in department stores. But my son Tsuyoshi found the experience of watching his mother walk away and leave him to his own resources with a bunch of strangers a bit traumatic. Tsuyoshi, like his father, and his father like his father, has shown symptoms of sociophobia.

Landmarks of William Riley Wetherall's life

My object in charting events in the life of William Riley Wetherall (WRW), in the form of a timeline, is to collate elements of stories told about them by his children, beginning with William Bascom Wetherall (WBW) in 2010 and 2011, and then Mary Arleen Wells (MAW) in 2013, with details about his life gleaned from public records and other documents.

WRW frequently moved, especially while living in Des Moines from the early 1920s to the early 1930s. His various addresses are underscored in the following chronology to facilitate understanding his movements according to evidence in census reports, on selective service registration cards, newspaper articles, and local directories.

Events related especially to the life of Ida Mae Baldwin are also included in this timeline, as she is at the heart of many of the mysteries that remain to be solved about their brief time together.


William Riley Wetherall chronology

1890-05-02   William Riley Wetherall is born in Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa, to William Franklin and Laura Belle (Beaman) Wetherall. See Table 4 and following for details.

1891-03   Ida Mae Baldwin is born in Kentucky to Newton Bascum and Martha Ellen (Steele) Baldwin. See Table 5 and following for details.

Ida's son, William B. Wetherall, recalled in 2010 that she was born in Corbin, Kentucky in 1888. Her death certificate states she was born in Kentucky in 1888. Her tombstone states she was born in 1891, and the 1900 census gives her month and year of birth as March 1891. Both the 1880 and 1900 censuses show her parents to have been farming in Pond Creek, Jackson County, Kentucky at the time.

1900 census   The June 1900 census shows William Riley, age 10, residing at 803 Pleasant Street, Knoxville, Iowa, in a mortgaged home owned by his father, while Ida Mae, age 9, is living in Pond Creek, Jackson County, Kentucky on a farm owned by her father free of mortgage.

William Riley Wetherall and Ida Mae Baldwin in 1900 census

Race (W = white), Sex (M = male, F = female), Birth (month year), Age (years)
Marital status (M = married, S = single, Wd = Widowed, D = Divorced), Years married
Underscoring = Obscure on account of having been crossed out
(sic = XYZ) = Shown as recorded but should be XYZ

Wetherall-Beaman family of Knoxville, Iowa in 1900

  1. Wetherall, William, Head, W, M, Feb 1860, 40, M, 12
    Born in Iowa, father in Maryland, mother in Pennsylvania
    Day laborer, unemployed 4 months in previous year, owns mortgaged home
  2. Laura B., Wife, W, F, Feb 1866, 34, M, 12, bore 6 children, 5 survive
    Born in Iowa, father in Indiana, mother in Ohio
  3. Mary S., Daughter, W, F, July 1888, 11, S, at school
  4. William R., Son, W, F, May 1890, 10, S, at school
  5. Bertha, Daughter, W, F, Sept 1892, 7, S, at school
  6. Lena B., Daughter, W, F, Nov 1894, 5, S, at school
  7. Jeremiah P. (sic = Jerry A.), Son, W, M, Dec 1899, 5/12, S
  8. The identity of the desceased child has not been confirmed but appears to have been Georgia Myrtle Wetherall, who was born on 16 February 1898. A 7th child, Annetta Alice Wetherall, was born to WFW and Laura in 1903 or 1904.

Baldwin-Steele of Pond Creek, Kentucky in 1900

  1. Baldwin, N. B., Head, W, M, Dec 61, 38, M, 18
    Born in Kentucky, father in Kentucky, mother Kentucky
    Farmer, unemployed 4 months in previous year, owns farm free of mortgage
  2. Ellen, Wife, W, F, Oct 63, 36, M, 18, bore 4 children, 4 survive
    Born in Kentucky, father in Kentucky, mother in Virginia
  3. Sally (sic = Sada / Sadie), Daughter, W, F, Augs 1883, 17, S, at school
  4. Liddie, Son, W, F, April 1886, 14, S, in school
  5. Almedie (sic = Meda), Daughter, W, F, Dec 1888, 11, S, at school
  6. Ida, Daughter, W, F, Mar 1891, 9, S, at school

1905-1906   Ida Mae Baldwin and William Riley Wetherall appear to have met in Knoxville while the Baldwin family was living there while making its way west from Kentucky. See Ida Baldwin below for my reconstruction of the boy-meet-girl story.

1908-1910   Ida Mae Baldwin attends vocational schools in Spokane. City directories show her at Northwest Business College in 1908 and at Blair Business College in 1909. In 1909 she is living with her parents.

Baldwin family in Spokane and St. Maries directories

Spokane, Washington, 1910

Baldwin Ida M, b apt J 1017 3d av
Apparently William R. Wetherall's future wife

Williams Sadie M, clk, b S219 Perry
Possibly Sadie M. (Baldwin) Williams (Aunt Sadie)

St. Maries, Idaho, 1911-1912

Baldwin Mrs Ellen -- Ida's mother
Baldwin Meda, b N B Baldwin -- Ida's sister Meda boarding at father's home
Baldwin Newton B (Baldwin & Thatch) -- Ida's father
Baldwin & Thatch (N B Baldwin, G T Thatch), grocers -- Father's grocery
. . .
Ure Clifford M, barber
Ure Meda, operator Interstate Telephone Co -- Ida's sister Meda married to Clifford Ure

St. Maries, Idaho, 1914-1915

Baldwin Newton B (Ellen), St Maries -- Ida's father and mother
. . .
Wetherall William R (Ida M), printer St Maries Gazette, St Maries -- William Riley and Ida

St. Maries, Idaho, 1916-1917

Baldwin Newton B (Ellen), lab, $50, h 2004 Idaho av, St Maries
Wetherell [sic = Wetherall] William R (Ida M), printer St Maries Gazette, St Maries
Williams Sadie Mrs, chf opr Interstate Utilities Co, $1,050, St Maries
Probably Sadie M. (Baldwin) Williams back in St. Maries

St. Maries Gazette advertisement shows that the company also did "Fine Job Printing".

The Baldwin family was residing in Spokane, Washington in 1908 and 1909, but by 1910 they had moved to St. Maries, Idaho. Ida, however, appears to have remained in Spokane for a while after her parents moved to St. Maries, presumably to finish her schooling at a business college.

WBW's recollections   In 2010, William B. Wetherall, their son, recalled a number of things he remembered hearing about his parents in their early years. Considering that he must have heard about his mother's life when he was older, after her death, either from his father or later from Ida's older sister Sadie, his memory was remarkable.

Ida's parents   WBW said that his maternal grandfather's name was Nathanial (he thought) Bascum Baldwin, the son of John Baldwin and Margaret Howard. He gave his maternal grandmother's name as Martha Ellen, the daughter of Jonas Steele and Elizabeth Grubb. All these names are substantiated by other evidence -- except that "Nathanial" turns out to be "Newton".

N. B. Baldwin   WBW said that N. B. Baldwin ran a general merchandise store among other businesses. He had in his possession a business card which stated "N. B. Baldwin / Dealer In General Merchandise / St. Maries, Idaho / St. Maries at confluence of St. Joe and St. Maries Rivers".

Ida Mae's schooling   WBW recalled that his mother had lived in Washington for a while before settling in St. Maries. He said that after moving to St. Maries, she graduated from Blair Business College in Spokane and won honors for her calligraphy. He added that she was a specialist in the Palmer Method of penmanship. The names of the places and school are substantiated by other evidence. But the same evidence suggests that Ida remained in Spokane to complete her schooling after her family moved to St. Maries. The two towns, about 90 minutes apart by car today, weren't commutable in Ida's time.

William Riley and Ida Mae   WBW believed his father had been working as a printer in St. Maries before he married Ida Mae and knew her from that time. It's entirely possible. They had to meet somewhere. As a young man in Iowa, he would have had more reason to head west than she would have had go to Iowa.

Blair Business College   An advertisment on the back (8th) page of the Thursday Morning, 1 January 1903 issue of The Spokesman-Review features a long description of the college below a picture of a 5-story building with large "Blair Buisiness College" signs along the parapets above the 5th-floor windows facing both streets. The description begins like this.


This school occupies the second and third floors of the College buildingIts equipment Is complete In every particular; no other business college in the west equals it in appointment.

It is the training school where hundreds of young bookkeepers and stenographers receive their training. Business men depend on the school for their office help and the demands they make are so constant that one of the hard problems of the principal is to meet this demand.

No graduate of the Blair Business College need be without employment.

1907-1908 catalogue   The 11th annual catalogue of Blair Business College, for 1907-1908, gives the address of the college as "Corner First Avenue and Madison Street, Spokane, Washington." Present-day descriptions of the 5-story New Madison Hotel, on the corner of W 1st Avenue and W Madison St. in the historic section of downtown Spokane, state that the building was constructed in 1906, and that Blair Business College occupied the top floor. The facades of the Madison Hotel, and the so-called "College building" in an 1903 newspaper ad, are different, but the buildings are of similar vintage and construction.

1910 census   The April 1910 census for Ames, Washington Township, Story County, Iowa shows William Riley Wetherall as "William Weatherall".

1910 census -- William Riley Wetherall

Sex (M = male, F = female), Race (W = white), Age (years),
Marital status (M = married, S = single, Wd = Widowed, D = Divorced)
(sic = XYZ) = Shown as recorded but should be XYZ

Weatherall, William (sic = Wetherall), Lodger, M, W, 19, Single
Born in Iowa, father and mother born in Iowa
Printer, Job Printing Co.

He is boarding at 421 Main St., the home of Melvina M. Hedgson (Head, 63, Widow, no occupation), Flora N. Hedgson (Daughter, 37, Single, Housekeeper, at home), and Addie Shockley (Sister, 50, Widow, Solictor, on the road).

Where do the twain meet?   As of April 1910, William Riley, just 19, still single, is working as a printer in Ames, Iowa. And Ida Mae Baldwin, 18, presumably freshly graduted from a Spokane vocational school, is listed in a 1910 Spokane directory, though possibly it was compiled in 1909. So when and where do they meet?

1910-06-01   William Riley Wetherall and Ida Mae Baldwin marry in Seward, Nebraska.

Marriage portrait Marriage certificate Ida's death certificate

William Riley Wetherall and Ida Mae Baldwin marry in Seward, Nebraska, 1 June 1910
How many errors can you spot on WRW's and Ida's marriage certificate?
Death certificate states Ida died on 2 April 1923 [at the North Idaho Asylum] in Orofino
Cause of death: "arterio-sclerosis"   Contributory: "Insanity"
"At place of death 5 yrs 6 mos 23 days"
Wetherall Family Collection

Marriage certificate errors

Weatherall → Wetherall
May → Mae
Bascom → Bascum
"Maiden name" in "Birthplace of mother" box

"At place of death" duration

Subtracting "5 yrs 6 mos 23 days" from "1923 yrs 4 mos 2 days" is a bit of a challenge. The principles of substraction apply to any number system, even one as mixed as Y-M-D figures -- which at the time were used in many ways, such as on tombstones to state how long a person had lived.

It appears that Ida was admitted to the asylum on "9 September 1917".

Where had Ida been before this?

Why does her death certificate state that she is "married"? The 1920 census for the asylum stated sheby then WRW had remarried and fathered a daughter?

1911-03-11   William Bascum (later "Bascom") Wetherall, first son and only child of William Riley and Ida Mae Wetherall, is born in Ames, Iowa. Presumably WRW was working there and he himself may have printed the cards announcing WBW's birth.

1911   William Riley and Ida Mae move from Ames to St. Maries when WBW is about 6 months old, to live with Ida's family because she was suffering from depression (according to WBW).

1911-1912   Ida Mae is hospitalized when WBW is about 8 months old (according to WBW).

However, Ida Mae appears to have been committed to the recently completed North Idaho Asylum in Orofino.

1915-1916   WRW takes WBW to Knoxville to visit his grandparents when WBW was about four years old. Presumably this was after WBW celebrated his 4th birthday in St. Maries. Guests were invited with cards probably printed by WRW.

To be continued.

WBW 4th birthday 4th birthday party invitation card, St. Maries, 1915
Wetherall Family photo
WBW 4th birthday Master William Wetherall front and center, 4th birthday part, 1915
Wetherall Family photo

1917   WRW moves his son WBW, then 6 years old, to Knoxville, where WBW lives with WRW's parents, WBW's paternal grandparents, William Franklin Wetherall and Laura.

1936-06-05   WRW registers for the draft in Benewah County, Idaho.


William Riley Wetherall as civilian

William R. Wetherall civilian Willim Riley Wetherall with cigarette
Undated studio portrait on postcard, circa 1910
Probably before or shortly after marriage
Wetherall Family Collection
William R. Wetherall civilianr William Riley Wetherall's hair at its wildest
Undated studio portrait on postcard, circa 1910
Probably before or shortly after marriage
Mary Wells Family Collection
William R. Wetherall civilian William Riley Wetherall in a hat of the times
Circa 1920s when working at Popular Monthly
See two inscriptions on the back (below)
Wetherall Family Collection
William R. Wetherall civilian WRW with brother Jerry Alexander Wetherall
Undated snapshot on postcard, circa 1920s
Wetherall Family Collection

The inscriptions on the back of the Popular Monthly snapshot are written in different hands, in ink. The 1st has faded toward brown, the 2nd toward blue.
The 1st inscription -- in a larger, cruder hand, apparently written by a colleague at the office of the Popular Monthly, WRW's employer -- reads
For Red headed & Brown eyed Billey
The 2nd inscription -- in a smaller, finer hand, apparently written by WRW, presumably when giving it to his son WBW -- reads
(Some one at the Popular Monthly wrote the above. It was taken near the office. I've had this for years. Thot you'd like to have it)

William Riley Wetherall "called to the colors" (1917-1919)

William R. Wetherall soldier Shouldering arms at attention
Probably during basic training 1917-1918
Wetherall Family Collection postcard
William R. Wetherall soldier Shouldering arms at attention
Probably during basic training 1917-1918
Mary Wells Family Collection photo
William R. Wetherall soldier In uniform with no sleeve rank
Probably after basic training circa 1918
Wetherall Family Collection postcard
William R. Wetherall soldier Germany or Bust (probably staged novelty photo)
Taken prior to embarkation for Europe in fall of 1918
Wetherall Family Collection postcard

The Wetherall Family Collection has 2 copies of the postcard showing WRW standing at shoulder arms.
The 1st untrimmed copy shown here has For Sydna written on the back in pencil
probably by WRW addressing his sister or by Laura addressing her daughter.
The 2nd slightly trimmed copy has the following fountain-pen note on the back.
This is your father's picture when in camp in Arkansas during last war.
Excuse it's [sic] condition as I had it pasted in a book & take [sic] it out

The note may have been written by Alice Dainty or Lena Stone, WRW's sisters,
addressing their nephew, WRW's son William B. Wetherall.


1 Name in full / Given name, Family name
Age in years
William R. Wetherall
2 Home address / Number, Street, City, State Idaho St. Maries Idaho
3 Date of birth / Month, Day, Year May 2 1890
4 Are you (1) a natural-born citizen, (2) a naturalized citizen, (3) an alien, (4) or have you declared your intention (specify which)? Natural Born
5 Where were you born? Town, State, Nation Knoxville Iowa U.S.A.
6 If not a citizen, of what country are you a citizen or subject?
7 What is your present trade, occupation, or office? Printer [Figure "20" appears to right]
8 By whom employed?
Where employed?
St. Maries Gazette
St. Maries, Idaho
9 Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12, solely dependent on you for support (specify which)? Child 6 years old
10 Married or single (which)?
Race (specify which)?
11 What military service have you had?
Rank, branch, years, Nation or State
12 Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)? Yes under Answer 9

I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.               

[ William R. Wetherall ]                    
Signature or mark [of registrant]                    

"C A" [Caucasian] is printed by hand along the diagonal line that marks a small triangular area in the lower left-hand corner on the front of the card. Printed diagonally aross the area, in a very small font, are the words If person is of African descent, cut off this corner.


1 Tall, medium or short (specify which)?
Short Slender, medium or stout (which)?
2 Color of eyes
Color of hair
3 Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, or both eyes, or is he otherwise disabled (specify)? defective vision

I certify that my answers are true, that the person registered has read his own answers, that I have witnessed his signature, and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follows:

[ C. B. Moon ]
Signature of registrar
[ Assistant Registrar ]

Precinct [ College ]
City or County [ Benewah ]
State [ Idaho ]

[ June 5, 1917 ]
Date of registration

5 June 1917   The Selective Service Act of 18 May 1917 authorized the temporary increase of military forces through a draft system operated through local county boards. The first registration, on 5 June 1917, inclued all men between 21-31, residing in the United States, including naturalized citizens and aliens. The second registration, on 5 June 1918, included men who had become 21 after 5 June 1917, and a follow-up registration on 24 August 1918 included those who had turned 21 after 5 June 1918. A third registration, on 12 September 1918, included all men between 18 and 45.

College was a voting precinct within the jurisdiction of the draft board. Draft boards appointed registrars for voting precincts within their jurisdictions.

Benewah was established as a county in Idaho on 23 January 1915. Its county seat was St. Maries, where WRW was working as a printer.

It is clear from WRW's registration card that he was hoping he might be exempted from the draft on account of his being the father of a 6-year-old son who was soley dependent on him for support. Though stating that he was married, he does not elaborate about his wife's condition of dependency, which would have been a stronger argument for exemption -- but that would have meant disclosing information he may not have wanted to appear on a public document such as a Selective Service record.

1917-09-06   The 6 September 1917 edition of The Pella Chronicle, a newspaper published in a town next door to Knoxville, ran the following report, which apparently first appeared in The Knoxville Journal. for whom all the Wetherall patriarchs -- WEW, WFW, and WRW -- had at one time worked in various capacities (page 6).

The Pella Chronicle, September 6, 1917


(From the Journal)

    Wm. R. Wetherall, a Knoxville printer, who has been working on the Carroll Times, in Carroll, at Carroll, Iowa, returned home last Friday. He has been "called to the colors" and will probably leave this week for St. Maries, Idaho, where he enlisted June 5.

The Pella Chronicle was founded in 1866 in the town of Pella in Marion County, Iowa. Pella is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Knoxville, Marion's county seat. The Carroll Times was a newspaper in Carroll, the seat of Carroll County in Iowa. Carroll county is four counties west and two counties north of Marion County; three counties west and one county north of Polk County (the home of Des Moines, the state capital); and three counties to the west of Story County, where Ames is located (the county seat of Story is the city of Nevada, proncounced NaVEYda). The paper was launched in 1897, according to one source, "as the outgrowth of differences arising in the ranks of the democratic party in the county." The population of Carroll at the time was about 4,000. Pella's population was over 3,000 and Knoxville had nearly 3,500 people. Knoxville was the home of the Knoxville Journal, founded in 1855, where WRW's father WFW had worked, and where WRW seems to have apprenticed as a printer.

Carroll, the seat of Carroll county, is roughly 200 kilometers or 125 miles from Knoxville, the seat of Marion County. The Carroll Times, a Democratic newspaper, was launched in 1897 amidst divisions in the Party as a rival to The Sentinel, which had been the county's dominant party voice. The Carroll Times absorbed the Sentinel in 1914.

returned home last Friday   WRW returned to his home in Knoxville from Carroll on 31 August 1917. It would appear that he moved from St. Maries to Iowa after registering for the draft in Behad returned to his parents' home in Iowa and was working as a printer at Carroll.

called to the colors   This implies that WRW was drafted, and that "enlisted" is a euphemism for "registered for the draft".

1917-10-12   William R. Wetherall begins service in U.S Army, entering the army in St. Maries, Idaho, with serial number 20116104.

The above events corroborate WBW's recollection in 2010 that his father, WRW, had taken him to Knoxville to live with his paternal grandparents when he was 6 years old -- apparently sometime between 5 June 1917 and September 1917. Whether WRW brought WBW to Iowa because he expected to be drafted, or because he had already been planning on relocating to Iowa, is not clear. Commenting on the "Germany or Bust" picture of WRW in uniform, WBW said he thought the war may have ended before his father got there.

WRW appears to have undergone the usual training followed by several months of waiting for deployment. His unit arrived in Europe about the time of the Armistice in November 1918, and a few months later, presumably after spending a few months in France, he was discharged.

1919-03-18   William R. Wetherall discharged from military service. He had been a Corporal in Battery "D" of 336 Field Artillery, which was the heavy artillery component of the 162d Field Artillery Brigade of the 87th Infantry Division of the National Army.

The 87th Division was organized at Camp Pike, Arkansas, in August 1917, transferred to Camp Dix, New Jersey, in June 1918, and deployed in France between August 1918 and September 1918, according to Brief History of Divisions, U.S. Army, 1917-1918 (Historical Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff, United States Army, June 1921). Apparently the entire division had arrived several weeks before the armistice in November 1918 and was used mainly as a labor pool.

The dates in some reports differ. See the annotations in the 28 July 2011 entry of Byron Graham's Graham Ancestry blog. Graham cites the following "detailed account of the [87th] division's First World War history" (viewed August 2013). The [bracketed remarks] are my digests of Graham's annotations. Graham attributes the account to U.S. War Department, Historical Branch, General Staff War Plans Division, Brief Histories of Divisions, U.S. Army 1917–1918, June 1921, which appears to be a manuscript.


(National Army. Insignia: Brown acorn on a green circle.)

The Eighty-seventh Division was organized at Camp Pike, Arkansas, in August, 1917, from drafted men of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. After providing detachments for replacements abroad the division was reorganized with recruits from other camps, and upon transfer to Camp Dix, New Jersey, in June, 1917 [sic = 1918], approximately 20,000 drafted men from New York and New Jersey were assigned. The organization was as follows:

  1. 173d Infantry Brigade
    1. 345th and 346th Infantry
    2. 335th Machine Gun Battalion
  2. 174th Infantry Brigade
    1. 347th and 348th Infantry
    2. 336th Machine Gun Batallion
  3. 162d Field Artillery Brigade
    1. 334th and 335th (light) Field Artillery
    2. 336th (heavy) Field Artillery
    3. 312th Trench Mortar Battery
  4. 334th Machine Gun Battalion
  5. 312th Engineers
  6. 312th Field Signal Battalion
  7. Trains

The first element of the division arrived in France August 28, 1918; the last September 16, 1918.

The division was reported to the Commanding General, S.O.S. [= Services of Supply] for duty the latter part of September. Headquarters were established at Pons (Charente Inférieure) on September 12th. The organizations were distributed through the base and intermediate sections, S.O.S., but the division did not lose its identity as a combat unit, and when the armistice was signed, it was under orders for service at the front and the headquarters and headquarters troops were actually in movement on November 11th.

Division headquarters sailed from St. Nazaire January 10, 1919, and arrived at New York January 22, 1919.

The division had three commanding generals as follows:

Maj. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis (assigned), Aug. 26, 1917 – Nov. 18, 1918; Brig. Gen. Robert C. Van Vliet (temporary), Nov. 27, 1917 – March 10, 1918; Brig. Gen. W. F. Martin (temporary), Dec. 11, 1918 – January 9, 1919.

Revised to 3-16-21


Camp Pike was an army cantonment at Little Rock, Arkansas. It was established on 18 July 1917 to serve as a training camp for the 87th Division, which occupied the cantonment from August 1917 to June 1918. Construction began on 17 June 1917 and continued through 1918. From April 1918 it was an infantry replacement and training camp, from 21 August 1918 an infantry training center, and from 3 December 1918 a demobilization center.

WRW and Lena Circa 1920 photograph of William Riley Wetherall and his sister Lena Belle (Wetherall) Stone
Cropped from photograph in Wetherall Family Collection

Lena wrote Wm & I on bottom margin of front of print
On the back she wrote Taken in Des Moines about a year after Armistice of World War No 1
These descriptions were probably written in the early 1940s when Lena labeled many photographs she sent to her nephew William B. Wetherall
Lena was born in 1894, married in 1912, and died in 1944

1921   Wetherall Wm R Printer Peo Popular Monthly rms 1536 e Walnut (1921 Des Moines City Directory)
Working for Peoples Popular Monthly. Rooming on East Walnut.
Presumably he had not yet married when the directory was compiled.

1921   William R. Wetherall marries Nellie M. Van Houton, judging from data in 1930 census (see below) and birth of their first child in 1922 (see below).

1922-10-13   Mary Arleen Wetherall (Van Ryswyk) (Wells), 1st daughter, born in Des Moines.

1922   Wetherall Wm R Printer Peo Popular Monthly res 1431 e 23rd (Wetherall Wm R Printer Peo Popular Monthly res 1431 e 23rd)
Residing in a presumably rented home on 23rd after marriage.

1923   Wetherall Wm R emp Peoples Monthly Co res 1431 e 23rd (1923 Des Moines City Directory)

1925   The 1925 Iowa census for Des Moines in Polk County, enumerated on 2 January but recording residence in the state by household as of 1 January 1925, shows the WRW family living at 1308 E 25 Court. Wetherall Wm R, Head, 35, owns the home, which is valued at and insured for $2500 but has a $2100 mortgage on it. Living with him are Wetherall Nellie, Wife, 25; Wetherall Mary A, Daughter, 2; and Wetherall Wm B, Son, 13. Wm R, Nellie, and Wm B completed 8 grades of grade school (Rural 1-4, Grade 1-8, High School 9-12). All three can read and write. Wm B attended 9 months of school in 1924.

The second page of the census shows the names and places of birth of the parents of each member of the houshold, and the names of localities where they were married. The data for Wm. B Wetherall correctly states that his mother's name was Ida Baldwin and his father's name was Wm. R. Wetherall, and that they were married in Seward, Nebraska but incorrectly says that she was born in Iowa, when in fact she was born in Kentucky.

Warren was born on 2 January that year, the day the census was evaluated, was was not included because the census was a record of residence as of 1 January.

1925 directory   Wetherall Wm R printer Peoples Monthly Co h1308 e 25th ct (1925 Des Moines City Directory)
Moves to a home he has apparently purchased on East 25th Court.

1308 E. 25th Ct. was described as of 2010, when it sold for $75,000, as a 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,008 sq ft home built on a 8,100 sq ft lot in 1920.

1925-01-02   Warren H. Wetherall, 2nd son (1st with Nellie), born in Des Moines.

1926   Wetherall Wm R compositor Peoples Popular Monthly h1308 e 25th ct (1926 Des Moines City Directory)

1927   Wetherall Wm R printer Peoples Popular Monthly h4152 e 32d (1927 Des Moines City Directory)
Moves to another home he has apparently purchased on East 32nd.

4152 E. 32nd St. was described as of 2013, when it was offered for $64,900, as a 2 bed, 1 full bath, 976 sq ft home built on a 0.58 sq ft lot in 1924.

1928   Wetherall Wm R printer Peoples Monthly Co h4152 e 32d (1928 Des Moines City Directory)

1928-01-11   Helen Anne Wetherall (Morrison), 2nd daughter, born in Des Moines.

1929   Wetherall Wm R printer h4152 e 32d (1929 Des Moines City Directory)
This year only the directory lists a "Wetherall Lottie dom L F Parker r 2905 Center", an apparently unrelated domestic worker, before Wetherall Wm R.

1930   Wetherall Wm R (Helen M) printer People Pop Monthly h4152 E 32d (1930 Des Moines City Directory)
Directory erroneously gives name of WRW's wife as "Helen M" -- his barely 2-year-old daughter.

1930   April 1930 census shows Wetherall William R as head of family living at 4152 East 32nd Street in Des Moines. He owns the home, valued at $4,500, and the family has a radio set. He was 39 at the time and "Age at first marriage" was 31. He was born in Iowa, his father in Iowa, and his mother in Pennsylvania. Family members included Nellie M, wife, age 31, age at first marriage 22, born in Iowa, father born in New Jersey, mother born in Ireland; Mary I [sic = Mary A], daughter, 7; Waren H [sic = Warren H], Son, 5; and Helen A, daughter, 2-2/12. William R is said to be a "Printer" working at a "Publishing Co". No" is written in the box under "Whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces / Yes or No".

Age of first marriage   The ages when William R. and Nellie are said to have first married, and the ages of their children, suggest (1) they married each other in 1921 or 1922, and (2) this was the first marriage for both of them. Why didn't WRW and/or Nellie acknowledge that he had been 20 years old when first married? Did the stigma of his first marriage compel him/her/them to stretch the truth in what would be called a "social" or "white" lie?

Whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces / Yes or No   Why, though, did WRW not disclose his status as a veteran of military service -- assuming the census takers asked and heard him say "No"? Did he not wish people -- the census takers, his children, perhaps even Nellie -- to know? This seems unlikely, yet there it is -- No, not Yes.

1931   Wetherall Wm R (Nellie) printer People Pop Monthly h4152 E 32d (1931 Des Moines City Directory)
The directory correctly shows WRW's wife as "Nellie".

1932   Wetherall Wm R (Nellie M) printer Register & Tribune Co h4152 E 32d (1932 Des Moines City Directory)
WRW's wife is now more fully "Nellie M". WRW is now employed by Register & Tribune Company because People's Monthly Company had gone bankrupt.

The People's Popular Monthly, which began publication in 1896, at one time boasted of having "the largest circulation of any home magazine west of the Mississippi-- Over 800,000 each month" (postcard). Aimed mainly at women, its early emphasis on current events shifted to household topics. Its articles and stories, which included some fiction, were vehicles for classified and mail-order advertisements, which kept its selling price low. It folded in 1931, two years into the Great Depression, thus forcing its employees, including William R. Wetherall, to find other work.

The Register & Tribune Company owned Des Moines two leading newspapers, The Des Moines Register, a morning paper, and The Des Moines Tribune, an evening paper, The Tribune ceased publication in 1982. Only the Register is still published today.

1932-1935   The WRW family moves to Audubon, possibly because the Register & Tribune job didn't last, or because it didn't pay enough to handle to mortgage on the Des Moines home.

1933/1934   Marjorie Jeanne Wetherall (Thomas), 3rd daughter born in either Des Moines or Audubon.

1935   1940 census shows that Nellie and the children were living in Audubon, Iowa as of 1 April 1935.

1935-1937   The WRW family moves from Audubon to Knoxville, after if not before WRW's death in 1936.

1936-07-04   William R. Wetherall dies at either Audubon or Knoxville, leaving Nellie with the four children to raise.

1938-01-14Mrs. Nellie M. Wetherall applies to the War Department for an upright headstone for William Riley Wetherall to be sent to Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville. The copy of the application shows the following information.

Headstone application Nellie's application for WRW's World War I service headstone
Copped and cropped from Ancestry.com



Enlistment dates
Discharge dates
[ Serial ] Pension number

October 12 - 1918 1917
March 18 1919 OK
20116104 OK



U.S. Regiment,
State Organization,
or Vessel
Date of Death
No record of middle name
Corpl OK
Battery "D" OK

336 F.A. OK
July 4 - 1936
Name of Cemetery
Location in or near --
  City   State
If World War Veteran --
  Division   State   Emblem

Knoxville   Iowa

87th   Iowa   Christian
OK    OK    Hebrew
To be shipped to (Name of consignee)
at (Give R.R. station, county, and State)
Whose post-office address is
Mrs. Nellie Wetherall
C.B.I.R.R., Marion, Iowa
1315 Roche St., Knoxville, Iowa

    This application is for the UNMARKED grave of a veteran. It is understood the stone will be furnished and delivered at the railroad station or steamboat landing above indicated, at Government expense, freight prepaid. I hereby agree to accept promptly the headstone at destination, remove it, and properly place nme at decendent's grave at my expense. NO FEE SHOULD BE PAID IN CONNECTION WITH THIS APPLICATION.

Mrs. Nellie Wetherall
────────────────────   Applicant
Address 1315 Roche St.   Date Jan 14 - 38
          Knoxville, Iowa

RAG 1/21/38

            DO NOT WRITE HERE
            COLUMBOS, MISS.   9 Feb 1938
To A.G.O.  TATE, GA.   9 Feb 1938
Ordered    17 Jan 1938
B/L         1685132
Shipped     3-23-38

Notes for 21st-century readers

  1. "World War" -- Also known as the Great War (1914-1918). It would not become World War I until after the beginning of World War II, the year after Nellie Wetherall filed this applcation.
  2. Corpl = Corporal (two chevrons), representing one promotion above Private (one chevron), the rank received after completion of basic training.
  3. F.A. = Field Artillery.
  4. "R.R. station or steamboat landing" -- The depot or port where the applicant would take delivery of the headstone with an automobile or horse-drawn buckboard.

O.Q.M.G. Form No. 623
Approved Aug. 12, 1913
Revised May 18, 1931
Revised Feb. 15, 1937

1940   April 1940 census shows Wetherall, Nellie residing as head of household at 527 Robinson Street in Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa. She is renting the home for 20 dollars a month. Nellie, 41, widowed, a "Seamstress" who had worked in a "Sewing room" for 32 [52?] weeks the previous year and earned 475 dollars. The box for "doing public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of 24-30 March" is marked "Yes". Living with her are Mary 17, Warren 15, Helen 12, Marjorie 6, and Garrison Emerson, Lodger, 73. The census notes that, as of 1 April 1935, Nellie and the four children were living in Audubon, Iowa. Garrison Emerson, however, was living at the same address, i.e., 527 Robinson Street. His occupation was described as "Old Age Asst." so perhaps he was receiving public assistance.

1942-03-15   On 15 March 1942 Mary Arleen Wetherall marries James Milfred Van Ryswyk, who was born on 8 November 1918 in Knoxville.

1943-05-27   On 27 May 1943, Nellie Wetherall remarries Carl Racine Riley Sailors, who was born in Derby, Iowa on 8 February 1885.

1945-06-01   On 1 June 1945, Carl Sailors dies at age 59 at his home in Knoxville. An obituary (of uncertain date and provenance) states that "On May 27, 1943, he was united in marriage to Mrs. Nellie Wetherall, who with the children, survive him." Surviving grandchildren include "James William Van Ryswyk of Knoxville". Among a number of surviving step-relatives were "four step-children, Mrs. Mary Van Ryswyk of Knoxville, Pfc. Warren Wetherall in Germany, Helen Anne and Marjorie Jean Wetherall at home".

WBW's memories of his father WRW and paternal grandfather WFW

My father WBW reported that his paternal grandfather, WFW, worked for The Knoxville Journal, a local newspaper, first as a sweeper, later as a collector. His son, William R. Wetherall, WBW's father, is said to have started working for the paper after graduating from the 8th grade. He became a compositor and did other work at the paper before working at print shops in various towns, including at Ames, Iowa and St. Maries, Idaho, before he settled in Des Moines and then Audubon, Iowa.

WBW recalled that WFW ran for the office of county recorder and barely missed it. Iowa was a stronghold of Republicanism, and his grandfather was an ardent Democrat. Bill said his father, too, was a Democrat and probably a socialist, as he supported Robert La Folette (1855-1925), the popular Wisconsin senator who ran for president in 1924 and captured 17% of the popular vote on progressive ticket opposed to corporatism.

Mary Wells' remarks

Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, a daughter-and-law of my late paternal aunt Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells (1922-2016), reported to me the following remarks by Mary about her and my paternal grandfather (email, 28 August 2013, [bracketed remarks] mine).

William Riley [Wetherall] had dark auburn hair with brown eyes. He did [as you imagined] come home with ink on his hands which was extremely had to remove. He moved Nellie, Mary, Warren & Helen to Audubon [Iowa] in 1931. He loved the newspaper/typesetting work but had to leave the trade due to lead poisoning from the ink which resulted in heart problems. He did not pass away until after moving to a small acreage northwest of Knoxville where he began raising chickens. On July 4, 1936 after feeding the chickens he fell outside the back door of the house due to a massive heart attack. Nellie sent Mary, age 12, to the neighbors to call for the Doctor but to no avail as William was dead when he fell. Mary said it was a very hot & dry summer day. Mary remembers her dad struggling to walk home from work in Audubon and being out of breath when he did.

"Nellie" was WRW's 2nd wife, hence WBW's step-mother. Warren and Helen were Mary's brother and sister. They and Marjorie, a younger sister, were WBW's half-siblings.

I have not seen a death certificate and so cannot comment on the reported cause of death or contributory conditions.


Ida Mae (Baldwin) Wetherall (1890-1923)

William B. Wetherall said in 2010 that the Baldwins were from Kentucky but migrated to St. Maries, Idaho, and that Ida Mae had studied stenography in Spokane, Washington. He also said that some members of the family had lived in Nebraska. The 1910 census shows William Riley living in Ames, Iowa, not yet -- but very soon to be -- married. And city directories from 1908 to 1910 show that Ida Mae was attending business colleges in Spokane.

In 2010, WBW also said that by 1912 his parents had moved to St. Maries, and that Ida Mae was then placed in an asylum in Orofino, Idaho, where she would remain until her death in 1923. In 2011, however, he reported that she had been put in an asylum in Clarinda, Iowa, in late 1911, and was then transferred to the asylum in Orofino.

Most of what WBW reported to me, WBW, his son, turned out to be generally correct. He said he did not know how his parents had met, though in his box of treasured letters was one from his mother to an sister of his father, in Knoxville, Iowa, where it turned out Ida had met his father while going to school in the town while the Baldwins briefly lived there during their roughly 3-year migration from Kentucky to St. Maries via first Knoxville, second Lincoln, Nebraska, and then Spokane.

See Baldwin-Steele family page for photographs and Ida and stories about her as a member of the Baldwin family.

The N. Bascum Baldwin tombstone is surrounded by headstones of other family members. The front-left headstone is that of Ida Baldwin Wetherall, 1890-1923. The name reflects the maiden and married names of Ida Mae Baldwin, born in Kentucky, the youngest of 4 Baldwin daughters -- Sadie, Lydia, Meda, and Ida.

The Baldwins moved from Kentucky to Washington during the 1900s. They were living in Spokane in 1908 and 1909 at the time Ida Mae was studying stenography at local business colleges. Spokane city directories show her at Northwest Business College in 1908 and at Blair Business College in 1909. In 1909 she is living with her parents. In 1910 she, but not her parents, is still in Spokane. The 1910 census shows the Baldwins, but not Ida, in St. Maries, Idaho, and the 1911 St. Maries city directory also the family in St. Maries.

In 2010, WBW reported that the family had moved from Kentucky to St. Maries but that Ida had lived for a while in Washington and graduated from Blair Business College in Spokane. He added that she had won honors for calligraphy as a specialist in Palmer Method penmanship. His memory of such detail at times superceded his recollection of the order of events on a time line. He could not, of course, had known such details from personal observation, but must have heard stories later in life, probably from his Aunt Sadie.

How Ida Mae Baldwin and William Riley Wetherall met

My father WBW could not recall in 2010 where his parents, Ida Baldin and WRW, had met. I don't know if he had once known and forgotten, or if he never knew.

The problem of when and where they met nagged me until I discovered that Sadie (Baldwin) Williams, Ida's oldest sister, gave birth to her 3rd child, Faye (Williams) (Mathews) Rebenstorf, in Knoxville, Iowa on 4 October 1906, and to her 4th child, Claude Jennings Williams, in Lincoln, Nebraska on 28 November 1907. The 1900 census showed the Baldwins in Pond Creek, Jackson County, Kentucky. The 1910 census showed them in St. Maries, Kootenai County, Idaho. Other evidence supported the hypothesis that Knoxville, Lincoln, and Spokane had been stops on the family's westward migration, ending in St. Maries. And Sewald, in the middle of Nebraska, had to figure in the picture because that is where Ida's oldest sister settled, and where Ida and WRW married.

The clincher came after discovering a cache of letters my father had been given by his Baldwin and Wetherall aunts, later in his life, One of the letters was addressed to "Mrs. L.R. Masteller" in Knoxville, from "Ida Baldwin" in St. Maries. Ida addresses Mrs. L.R. Masteller as "Dear Friend Bertha" -- as that was the name of William R. Wetherall's younger sister. Bertha had married Masteller on 22 September 1909, 6 days before she turned 17.

Ida graduated on 22 May 1907 from the 8th grade of the University Place Public Schools, in University Place, which is now part of Lincoln, Nebraska.

On 15 January 1910, about half a year before she married William Riley Wetherall, Ida Mae Baldwin sent a letter to his sister Bertha (Wetherall) Masteller.

Ida Baldwin's 15 January 1910 letter to Bertha (Wetherall) Masteller

Ida's letter to Bertha Ida's letter to Bertha Ida's letter to Bertha
Ida's letter to Bertha

Ida Baldwin's 15 January 1910 letter to
WRW's sister Bertha (Wetherall) Masteller

The letter is dated Saint Maries, Idaho, 14 January 1910. The envelope, however, shows three cancellation marks.

  1. The stamp was franked in Saint Maries, Idaho on the morning of 15 January 1910.
  2. The front of the envelope was franked enroute in Missoula, Montana on the evening of 15 January 1910.
  3. The back of envelope was franked as received in Knoxville, Iowa on the morning of 19 January 1910. The letter was probably delivered later that day, if not the next.

Ida and Bertha probably met in Knoxville around 1905 to 1906. Ida, who was WRW's age, was 2 years older than Bertha. She and WRW were probably classmates.

Wetherall Family Collection

Ida's letter to Bertha Ida's letter to Bertha

So the puzzle of where WRW met Ida Baldwin was solved. They met in Knoxville, Iowa, where WRW was born and raised, and where the Baldwin family spent a year or so on the first stop of their migration from Kentucky to St. Maries, Idaho. The second stop was Lincoln, Nebraska, where Lydia, while studying at a business college, met Charles Anstine, who was a railroad employee. Seward, between Knoxville Iowa and Idaho, became a Baldwin-Wetherall retreat.

Whereupon another mystery arises -- How did WBW end up with his mother's letter to Bertha? Bertha, who died in 1962, was at the 1958 Wetherall family reunion in Knoxville. A number of photographs in the Wetherall Family Collection are from her, and I suspect she gave them -- and the letter -- to my father at the time of the reunion, or possibly mailed them to him shortly afterward.

Ida and WRW married in Seward, Nebraska, on 1 June 1910.

Ida Mae committed to Clarinda Asylum

Not long after Ida gave birth to my father in Ames, Iowa, where WRW was working at a print shop, she was committed to the state hospital for people considered "insane".

According to an interview with WBW taped by Gregg Schiffner at the Wetherall home on 8 March 2011, Ida was first confined to a "sanitorium" -- or, as he added, an "insane asylum" as it was called in those days -- in Clarinda, Iowa. WBW said the confinement took place shortly after his birth, and that when 8 months old his father took him to St. Maries, Idaho, and moved her to an asylum at Orofino in Idaho.

However, in his 2010 reminisence with this writer, his son, he said that the family went to St. Maries when he was about 6 months old and that his mother was confined at Orofino when he was about 8 months old. He also dated pictures of himself with his parents as taken about the time he was 6 months old. WBW's memory of detail changed from day to day, and the fact that he would recall a place name like "Clarinda" and associate it with his mother suggests that the 2011 scenario is the truer version.

The 2011 scenario also means that the early photograph of WBW and his parents was taken just before Ida's first confinement. Presumably the object of their move to Idaho was for her to be closer to her parents, and to enlist the help of her parents in raising little Willie.

Clarinda State Hospital Partial View of Iowa Hospital for Insane
Clarinda, Iowa

Female wing to the right
Postcard, early 20th century
(Asaylum Projects Org)
Clarinda State Hospital Iowa State Hospital for Insane
Clarinda, IA 42

Female wing to the right
Panoramic photograph, circa 1908
(eBay reproduction)

Iowa Asylum for the Insane, Clarinda

Clarinda is the county seat of Page County, in the southwest corner of Iowa on its border with Missouri to the south, and immediately east of Fremont County, which also borders on Nebraska to the west. It is, in other words, about as far as possible as one can get from the more populated counties toward the center, north, and east of the state. The town became the site of Iowa's third state asylum, The Clarinda Asylum for the Insane opened in 1888 as an all-male facility to take the overload from A female wing was added later. Also known as the Clarinda State Hospital and the Clarinda Mental Health Institute, it is now part of the Clarinda Treatment Complex.

The Clarinda facility was the third of Iowa's four historic state asylums, following the Iowa Lunatic Asylum at Mount Pleasant (in the southeast of the state), which opened 1861, and the Iowa Asylum for the Insane at Independence (in the northeast), which partly opened in 1873 and fully opened in 1884. The fourth such asylum was opened at Cherokee (in the northwest) in 1902.

Historians of asylum designs call the Clarinda facility an example of a "Transitional Kirkbride Plan" in that it reflects elements of the Kirkbride Plan that had become the standard around 1888, and the Cottage Plan that was introduced from about 1900. The architecture and grounds of Kirkbride Plan asylums were designed along the lines of the treatment philosophy of the Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride (1809-1883). A Quaker physician and advocate for the mentally ill, Kirkbride was one of the 13 asylum superintendents who gathered in Philadelphia in 1844 to from the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane. It was and America's first national medical society, and the forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association


Ida Mae transferred to Orofino Asylum

Ida Mae was transferred to Orofino Asylum, on the outskirts of Orofino, Idaho when Bill was about 8 months old, according to all of his various accounts of his early life. In 2010, he said he thought she was admitted to the Orofino facility in late 1911 or early 1912.

WBW said in 2010 that his father had come to St. Maries to work in a print shop, and that his father had probably committed his mother, but I would guess that, after he brought her to Idaho from the asylum in Iowa, her parents also became involved in her care and the decision to commit her to the Orofino Asylum. Possibly her older sister, Sadie Williams, who appears have been working at the asylum in Medical Lake, Washington at the time WBW was born in Ames, Iowa, was also involved in the decision to commit her sister,

Orofino State Hospital State Hospital for the Insane
Orofino, Idaho

Postcard, circa 1911
(Asylum Projects Org)

Idaho State Hospital for the Insane, Orofino

What Bill called the "Orofino Asylum" appears to have been the popular name of what was more formally the North Idaho Asylum. The asylum was built in 1905 on the outskirts of Orofino because the state's first and only other asylum at Blackfoot was full.

The North Idaho Asylum was set up and operated by Dr. John W. Givens, who had previously worked at an asylum in Oregon and at the Blackfoot asylum in Idaho. Givens was Idaho's 73rd licensed doctor and its 1st licensed "alienest" -- as psychiatrists were then called. He ran the Orofino institution for 20 years, which included the entire period that Bill's mother was a patient there. He was born in 1854 in Placerville, California, where his parents had migrated from Illinois during the earliest years of the Gold Rush, though he would be raised in Oregon.

1920 census

The 1920 census for North Idaho Asylum in Orofino, Idaho shows Ida Wetherall as a patient described as female, white, 36 [sic = 30 or 32], single, born in Kentucky of parents born in the United States. He occuption column describes her as a stenographer, whereas practically all other female patients are housewives. The first-listed resident staff member is John W. Givens, male, white, 65, widowed, born in California of parents born in Indiana, a medical superintendent working at a sanitorium.


WBW's memories of his mother

Bill had only two memories of his mother. One was of seeing her sitting on a swing on the grounds of the asylum. Another was of himself walking ahead of her and Grandma Baldwin on the board walk between the asylum and the town of Orofino. He remembers hearing his mother call "Wait, Willie, I want to walk with you."

His expecting mother Ida Mae sent her sister Sadie a color postcard addressed "Mrs. Sadie Williams, / Medical Lake, Washington." and bearing a green One Cent Franklin stamp franked AMES, IOWA Mar 23 12-30P 1911. The message, in blue fountain pen, reads "Dear Sister: / All is well but expecting something everyday. Mother is here. Wish you were. Will write soon again. With love, from, Wm. & Ida."

In 2010, WBW said he might have been born in Des Moines rather than Ames, the above card, his birth certificate, and birth announcement card all point to Ames, in Story County, Iowa. about 30 miles north of Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, and 8 miles west of the small town of Nevada, the seat of Story County. It would be an easy 30-minute drive by car today from Ames to Des Moines, but in 1911 the going would have been a bit rougher.

The population of Ames in 1910 was around 5,000. That year's census shows William Riley Wetherall, still single, boarding in Ames while working at a job printing shop, presumably also in Ames. Where Ida Mae Baldwin was living at the time, and when and where she and William Riley met married, remain unknown.

Ida Mae appears in the 1920 census as a patient at the Idaho Insane Asylum in Orofino. At the time of her death in 1923, WBW was living with his paternal grandparents in Knoxville, Iowa. His fater WRW is living in Des Moines.

Bill's mother sent her parents an 8 x 20.4 centimeter sketch of their grandson. Above his head are the words "Forget me not". On the back are two messages: one, in blue-black fountain pen, reads "From Ida, To Papa & Mamma"; the other, in pencil, reads "I drew this to send to you when Willie was 6 months old. He's asleep on the couch. He went to sleep gnawing on a chicken bone."


Nellie Sailors Nellie Sailors circa August 1950 probably in Knoxville
Scan by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of photo in
Mary Wells (Van Ryswyk) Family Collection
Nellie with children and Dainties Nellie (right) with children Helen (left), Mary, and Warren Wetherall
With sister-in-law Aunt Alice (Wetherall) Dainty (second from right)
and Alice's daughter Thayne Dainty (later Ireland) in back
Possibly at Dainty home in Knoxville, Iowa, circa 1950s
Cropped by William Wetherall from scan by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of
photo in Dainty Family album provided by Thayne (Dainty) Ireland

Nellie (Van Houton) Wetherall (Sailors)

Nellie was in Des Moines in 1930, by then a 32-year-old mother of three. William Riley was still working at the People's Popular Monthly. He'd been working for the magazine for at least 9 years. She was a Des Moines girl and the story I heard in 2013 via Mary Sue Van Ryswyk from Nellie's and WRW's oldest child, Mary (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, who was then 90, is that they met at the magazine, where she worked as a proofreader and he as a typesetter.

The 1920 census shows Nellie to be single and a file clerk at a magazine company. WRW is married and is a printer at a shop. I have not seen any documentation of their marriage, but given Mary's birth in October 1922, it would appear that they married around 1921. Ida Mae (Balwin) Wetherall, WRW's 1st wife, did not die until 1923. The 1920 census for the mental asylum at Orofino in Idaho lists her as a patient and states that she is single, meaning never married. I have seen no documentation of a divorce, but it would appear that, as late as 1920, WRW considered himself still married.

It is difficult to say when WRW became an employee of the People's Popular Monthly, but Des Moines city directories from 1921 through 1931 show him working at the magazine. It folded in 1931, and from 1932, the directories show him working at the Des Moines Register & Tribune (same company, two papers, one morning, one evening).

WBW, having graduated from high school in Des Moines in 1928, is living in St. Maries with a maternal aunt while going to college in Moscow. But he and his step-mother are in touch. In 1930, Nellile sends him a reference book to possibly help him in his studies.

Thesaurus and note Thesaurus and note
Thesaurus and note

Roget's Thesaurus

In 1930, two years after leaving Iowa, while living with a maternal aunt's family in St. Maries, Idaho, and going to college in Moscow, William B. Wetherall received a fresh-off-the-press edition of Roget's Thesaurus from his step-mother Nellie in Des Moines. He treasured the thesaurus all his life and kept it handy in the living room with most of his other books. In it was a note on white stationery in a white envelope with just "William B. Wetherall / 1930" on the outside.

When disposing of his home and belongings in 2012, shortly before he died in 2013, my father gave the Thesaurus and several other volumes from his library, and the redwood planks he had used to shelve them, to his good friend Gregg Schiffner, who kindly provided me with the scans shown to the right.

Nellie had a neat hand. And I'll wager she also knew "all the synonyms, antonyms, homonymns, and many other 'nyms'" she was certain my father already knew.

WBW is only two years out of Nellie's nest is Des Moines. And there were no girl friends in sight. Yet she is already anticipating that someday the book might come in handy with her step son's "youngsprints" -- of which I turned out to be one. And I must say it did come in handy.

Mary reported, as related to me by her daughter-in-law Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, the following recollections of her mother (email, 28 August 2013).

Nellie worked for the WPA program in a factory sewing overalls. Later she took the census of the cemetery where she made more money.

Mary had to quit school to care for the 3 younger siblings. All 4 went to school but when Mary was 16 she had to quit school and go to work. She still remembers how hard it was to tell her teacher, Mrs. Bonar, that she had to leave school. Mary went into homes doing housework and gave most of her pay to Nellie. It was a very difficult time for all of them.

Nellie's maiden name was Van Houten. She had black naturally curly hair and brown eyes. Helen was the only one to recieve the curls. Mary doesn't remember much happiness after her father died.

Wiliam Riley liked to joke and laugh. He and Mary would have water fights and chase each other around the yard. Whenever he wanted to drive their Model T car Mary would choke it while her dad cranked it. He would read the letters sent by your dad to the family when their had finished their evening mail. Mary loved hearing from her older brother.

William Riley's sisters, Sydna & Alice both died of heat ailments. Alice & Belle both had reddish hair.

Carl Sailors

By all accounts, Nellie's 2nd marriage with Carl Sailors, his 3rd, was successful. For better or worse, it was short lived, as he died two years later.

The following obituary for Carl has been posted by Marion Obituaries (maintained by Allen Hibbard) on the IAGenWeb genealogy website.

Nellie and Carl Sailors Nellie and Carl Sailors at time of their wedding in 1943
Cropped by William Wetherall from scan by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of
photo in Dainty Family album provided by Thayne (Dainty) Ireland

Carl Racine (Riley) Sailors

Son of Mary Lewis and Alexander Sailors, born Feb.8,1885 at Derby, Iowa and passed away at his home in Knoxville, June 1,1945, at the age of 60 years, 3 months and 23 days.

He was married to Florence Wilson in 1904. A daughter, Mrs. Helen Mozena of Moline, Illinois, was born to this union. On Dec. 24, 1910, he was married to Sabra Leivick. Six children were born to this union. Those survivig are Mrs. Blanche Guile of Burlington, Iowa; Daisey Sailors, "Hap" Sailors and Mrs. Frances Temple of Knoxville. Two children, Melvin and Maxine, and their mother preceded him in death. On May 27, 1943, he was united in marriage to Mrs. Nellie Wetherall, who with the children, survive him. One brother, Arch, preceded him in death.

He also leaves five grandchildren; Mrs. Betty Moon of Moline, IL.; Charles Guile Jr. of Burlington; Nola Kay Sailors of Bremerton,Wash.; Melvin Racine Temple and James William VanRyswyk of Knoxville. There are two great-grandchildren, Brenda Sue and Terry Lee Moon, and four step-children, Mrs. Mary VanRyswyk of Knoxville, Pfc. Warren Wetherall in Germany, Helen Anne and Marjorie Jean Weterall at home; also a step-sister and brother, Mrs. Myrtle Vaughn and Clarence Jackson of Davenport, Iowa.

Mr. Sailors lived practically all of his life in Knoxville, serving as Street Commissioner for a number of years and was employed by the city on several construction jobs. He was a kind husband and father, and a friend to all.

Funeral services were conducted at the Bybee & Davis Funeral Home, Monday at 2:30 by the Rev. M.M. Pigg, pastor of the Christian Church. Burial was at Graceland Cemetery.


William Bascom Wetherall (1911-2013)

See Wetherall-Hardman family page for biographical details and photographs of WBW.


Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells

Mary was the first of William R. and Nellie Wetherall's four children. She married James Van Ryswyk and they had three sons. After Jim's death she married Jack Wells.

2.2 Wetherall-Van Ryswyk

Mary Arleen Wetherall and James Milfred van Ryswyk

Table 2.2   Mary A. (Wetherall) and James M. Van Ryswyk family
Notes Name Birth Death Age Born Died Relics Vocation
T2 0 Mary Arleen (Wetherall) Van Ryswyk (Wells) 13 Oct 1922 10 Sep 2016 93 Des Moines IA Indianola, IA Pleasantville, IA
0 James Milfred Van Ryswyk 8 Nov 1918 13 Jul 1979 70 Knoxville IA Carlisle IA Pleasantville, IA Dairy farmer
1 James William Van Ryswyk 13 Nov 1944 Knoxville IA
2 Robert Leslie Van Ryswyk 16 Nov 1948 Knoxville IA Dairy farmer
3 Thomas Wayne Van Ryswyk 24 Aug 1950 Oskaloosa IA Computer programmer
  1. Mary and Jim were married on 15 March 1942. Jim was born in Knoxville (some sources say Greenfield), Iowa, to an American-born father of Dutch immigrant parents and a Dutch-immigrant mother. His mother's mother tongue was thus Dutch.
  2. James William Van Ryswyk, born in Knoxville, Iowa, married Pam and they have three children -- Danille, Tyler, and Tayler.
  3. Robert Leslie Van Ryswyk married Mary Sue Enderson on 5 February 1972. She was born in Boone County, Iowa on 2 March 1951 the daughter of Kenneth Arnold Enderson (1924-1987) and Bette Lee Kleckner (1926-1986). They have one child, Joshua Andrew Van Ryswyk, born in Seoul in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), on 8 January 1977. However, they also have three other children (see below).
  4. Thomas Wayne Van Ryswyk, a computer programmer, married Jeanna Rae Ogden, a secretary, on 16 October 1971. She was born in Des Moines, Iowa on 26 May 1952, the daughtger of Devene Olna Ogden and Jeanette Clarine King. They have one child, Tricia Lynn, born in Des Moines on 1 February 1974.
Van Ryswyk marriage MaryWetherall (19) and James Van Ryswyk (23)
Marriage, Knoxville, Iowa, 15 March 1942
Mary Wells Family photo (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)
Van Ryswyk anniversary Van Ryswyk family celebrating Mary's and Jim's 25th anniversary, 15 March 1967
James (22), Thomas (18), Jim (48) , and Robert (16) standing behind Mary (44)
Mary Wells Family photo (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)


Meeting Mary

Mary Wells Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Houton) Wells in 1995
Mary Wells Family photo (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)

I met Mary and Jim Van Ryswyk, and their three boys, and most other adult members of the immediate (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation) family of William Riley Wetherall, in 1958 at a family reunion in Knoxville and nearby Carlisle in Iowa. I don't recall being present on occasions when Mary or other members of the family visited my parents in Grass Valley (see below).

My only "contact" with my father's step-mother and half-siblings, after meeting his step-mother and two of his half-sisters in 1958, was through the photographs I examined with him two or three years before he passed away in 2013. I had organized the photographs several years before I was able to get him to sit down and go through them with me.

After my father died, I began to reach out and discover who among his relatives might still be alive, in order to send them news of his death. Using the little family history data I had compiled in the process of going through the photographs, I was already aware that most people had already died. He was the oldest of William Riley Wetherall's 5 children, and the others were from 11 to 22 years younger, and so might still be alive.

Using the Internet, I found that his three youngest half-siblings had already gone. But I found an article from a local Iowa newspaper, dated in the fall of 2012, which reported that Mary had celebrated her 90th birthday -- and it gave the address of the convalescent home in which she was living. I immediately wrote, and quickly received a reply from her daughter-in-law, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, the wife of Mary's 2nd son, Robert, with whom she was taking care of Mary -- who was still alive, and all things considered not doing too badly.

In the course of some very intense email correspondence, beginning that summer of 2013, I nagged Mary Sue to nag Mary for as many stories about her life as she felt willing to share. Mary Sue was even more enthusiastic about family history than I was. She was already a veteran, and as I write this, she continues to flesh her own very extensive and elaborate family tree.

As thankful as I was that my father's closest sister was still alive, I was also a self-confessed "predator" who viewed her as a surrogate for a father who was no longer able to answer questions, even when pushed. And while Mary Sue was every bit as eager as I was to know as much as possible, she was also in the position of having to take care of Mary and make her life as peaceful as possible.

Mary (like my father) turned out to be a bit grumpy when pressed to answer questions about things that seemed to her (him) to be trivial, or which touch on sensitive subjects. I could practically hear her say to Mary Sue, "What does he want to know that for!", in the same tone of voice with which my father would say, "Why are you interested in that!"

If pressed to explain myself, I would simply repeat Mallory's retort when asked "Why do you want to climb Everest?" -- "Because it's there." Facts are what make family histories worth reading. The skeletons in all the closest are often more interesting than the carnated bones that keep them shut away. Studio-shot, blemish free portraits are nice, but unpainted faces with blackheads, pimples, warts, pock marks and scars, and wrinkles, also deserve to be seen -- as gossip of scandals needs to be heard along with stories of adventure and romance, joy and grief, tests of faith, promises kept and broken, dreams fulfilled and abandoned.

Mary Sue Van Ryswyk conveyed to me the following summation of her mother-in-law's life, partly paraphrasing what Mary told her, partly relating her own understanding of Mary's life (email, 2014).

Mary had a good married life with James Van Ryswyk. The lived in a couple of houses before settling on a rented farm south of Carlisle where they lived until retirement. James farmed and milked Holstein cows. Jim & Rob worked side by side with their dad but Tom was fearful of the cows and hated farming. When Jim married, James & Mary moved into town. James began working for the Dairy Co-op as a milk inspector. Driving around the countryside and smoking he began to drink heavily and soon became an alcoholic. He died in July of 1979 at the age of 60 years from lung cancer leaving Mary a young widow. When they moved to town Mary took a job at Great Plains Bag Company where many different types of bags were made. She had an office job. Prior to moving to town she was a hard working farm wife raising big gardens and lots of chickens.

Later Mary married an older gentleman named Jack Wells. He was widowed in December and began seeing Mary in March. He lavished her with love and tenderness and they were married in January -- she insisted they wait until his wife had been gone a full year. They had only about 8 years together but she was very financially comfortable and his love for her was so evident. He was very demonstrative of his love and that was something James was not.

Dutch roots of Iowa Van Ryswyks

The Wetherall-Van Ryswyk clan of Iowa traces its Dutch side back some 15 generations to a late-14th and early 15th-century progenitor in The Netherlands -- Glimmer Jansz. van Ryswyk [Rijswijck], born circa 1370/1380, died circa 1440/1441. A 13th generation descendant of the clan, Dirk van Ryswyk, born in Holland on 28 July 1839, migrated to the United States, settled in Pella, Iowa, and died there on 16 July 1921.

James Milfred Van Ryswyk was a member of the clan's 15th generation counting its progenitor, or its 14th descendant generation. He was also a member of the clan's 3rd American generation, meaning its 2nd American-born generation. Jim was actually a "2.5" generation descendant because, while his father was second generation (born to immigrant Dutch parents), his mother was a Dutch immigrant. Jim was born in Greenfield, Iowa on 8 November 1918, and married Mary Arleen Wetherall of Knoxville, Iowa on 15 March 1942. Their three boys are part of the clan's 16th generation and the 4th generation of the branch that migrated to the United States in the 19th century. He died in Carlisle on 13 July 1979.

Mary's obituary

Mary's obituary was published in shorter and longer versions. The shorter Legacy.com version is attributed to the 13 September 2016 edition of the Des Moines Register. The longer version, shown as a clipping, appeared on page 2 of the Thursday, 22 September 2016 edition of The Carlisle Times in Marion County, Iowa.

The photograph that accompanied the obituaries is a crop from a portrait provided by Mary's son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, of Carlisle, who wrote the obituary. I have paragraphed the shorter on-line version according to the paragraphing of the longer print version and transcribed the omission in blue. The (parenthetic remarks) are as received. The [bracketed remarks] are mine.

Mary Wells obituary

Mary Wells

Mary Wells

Mary Wells


Saturday September 10, 2016 at 5:30 a.m. Mary took her final breath and entered into her eternal home.

Mary was born on Friday October 13, 1922 to William Riley and Nellie Marie (Van Houten) Wetherall in Des Moines, Iowa. She was welcomed home by her 11 year old brother, William [Bascom Wetherall] and later joined by brother Warren and sisters Helen and Marjorie. Mary attended school in Audubon and Knoxville. She was 13 years of age when her father died suddenly and she had to assume the household duties and care of her siblings while her mother worked. In later years she had to leave school to join the work force and assist her mother in providing for the family.

In Knoxville Iowa on Sunday March 15, 1942 Mary and James Van Ryswyk were married. They lived in the Pleasantville area for a brief time before moving to a dairy farm south of Carlisle where they lived until moving into the town of Carlisle in 1967. James and Mary were blessed with three sons, James, Robert and Thomas. Mary was a great cook, gardener and crafter. She enjoyed being a farm wife and raising her sons as well as providing a temporary home for family members when needed.

After moving to town Mary began working at Great Plains Bag Company in Des Moines. She and James enjoyed dancing and card playing with friends. They also loved fishing, especially for trout in Missouri, and deer hunting in Wyoming. July of 1979 sadness moved into Mary's life with the loss of her husband James. She continued to work, attend meetings of the JFF Club (Just for Fun) and play cards with friends.

On January 28, 1984, was united in marriage to Gerald "Jack" Wells. They were able to travel to several states and enjoyed fun times together. Their life together was short as Jack died in 1990 and Mary found herself alone again. She continued to be active in her JFF Club and play cards with a group of ladies.

Mary moved from the Well's home in Carlisle to an apartment in Indianola where she enjoyed the activities with the other residents. Health issues brought her back to Carlisle to live at the Carlisle Center for Independent Living for several years before having to relocate to the Westview Care Center in Indianola which was her home the past two years.

Those who survive Mary are her sons, James (Pam Stebbeds) Van Ryswyk of rural Chariton, Robert (Mary Sue Enderson) Van Ryswyk of Carlisle and Thomas (Jeanna Ogden) Van Ryswyk of Florida, grandchildren, Danielle Van Ryswyk, David Van Ryswyk, Joshua Van Ryswyk and Tricia Van Ryswyk Stamper and foster grandchildren, Nga Baccam Burns, Vi Baccam and Oai Baccam.12 great grandchildren and 3 great, great grandchildren, nieces Rae Persyk, Kathy Wetherall and Mary Ellen Wetherall and nephews, William and Jerry Wetherall, sister-in-law, Mildred Van Ryswyk Maeschen and brother in law, Willard Van Ryswyk, a wealth of Van Ryswyk nieces and nephews and the family of Jack Wells.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, siblings, husbands James and Jack, nephew Bill Morrison, Van Ryswyk niece, Anna Marie Metcalf and nephew, Fred and Jack Well's children, Jamie Futrell, Gerald "Jerry" Wells and Marilyn Lang.

Memorial graveside services will be Wednesday September 14 at 10:00 at the Pleasantville Cemetery with a luncheon following at the Carlisle Christian Church graciously provided by the ladies of the church.

The family prefers no flowers and suggests memorial donations to Westview Care Center, Suncrest Hospice or the Carlisle Christian Church. Online condolences may be made at www.petersonfuneralservice.com

Published in Des Moines Register on Sept. 13, 2016



Family histories based on patrilineal surnames are deceiving. All the fuss about "Wetherall" this and "Van Ryswyk" that -- the focus on family or "clan" names -- glosses over the fact that neither "line" could exist without tens of thousands of other families with their own (usually but not always different) surnames. The surnames "Wetherall" and "Van Ryswyk" in, say, their 15th generation -- 14 generations down the line from their respective progenitor families -- each stands on the shoulders of over 32,000 families. Not necessarily that many surnames, but that many families -- each. And when people migrate, crossing borders, they generally mix. So the whole idea of beating the drums of a single name, and taking "ethnic" pride in the name itself, is the epitome of what I call "deceptive identity".

The outreach of humanity in an increasingly "borderless" age that remains full of territorial conflict, and the displacement and destruction of families that get caught in the vices of war, give some hope for the future of a civilization still learning to be civil. I'm speaking of adoption.

And the mixing and blending transcends blood when families adopt. Patrilineal succession is practically universal. Patriarchy and primogeniture have been losing their grip on families, but people in most countries today continue to idealize father-son biological ties in successive family generations. Countries differ somewhat in how they view adoption.

In the old days, when families were much larger, families adopted younger siblings and younger aunts and uncles, as when a mother died giving birth to her 10th or 12th child, or soon after the birth of her last child. This was common in the United States. It was also common in China, Korea, and Japan, where families that needed an heir adopted a child from the immediate extended consanguineous family -- a younger brother or younger uncle, or a male first cousin.

In Japan, you find the usual concern with biological lineage, within each family. But ultimately, families in Japan are defined by "continuity" rather than "blood". The continuation of a family name is more important than the continuation of a genetic line.

Today, families are very small. The fertility rate has been hovering around 1.5 child per child-bearing woman for over two decades. In the past, however, families had many children, and it was common for childless families, or families without a male heir, to adopt children to carry on the family name.

A family of girls might adopt a man who agreed to be the husband of one and succeed her father as head of household. When couples marry in Japan, one spouse has to adopt the other's family name in the process of becoming a member of the other spouse's household. Each formally defined household -- not a physical house but a corporate or legal house -- had a single name that was shared by everyone in the household. While households today are no longer defined as corporate entities, couples and their offspring continue to define a unit when it comes to inheritance. And so long as members of a household continue to be registered together, as a family, they must share the name family name household.

Women, when marrying, have generally adopted their husband's name and identified with his family. But husbands, in the past and still today, are free to adopt their wife's family name. And if a daughter becomes the keeper of her family keys so to speak -- the nominal "head of household" -- then her husband is likely to adopt her name and share the burden of succession -- which may involve the running of a farm or a vegetable shop, or a kiln, or the curating of manuscripts and other materials associated with an historically famous family.

In some cases, someone totally unrelated to the family by blood may be adopted as heir to the head of the family, and may marry someone unrelated to the family, thus ending its bloodline. But the ever-important family name will continue. And they will continue to pay respect to the ancestors, and carry on as though the family's line of descent is unbroken.

My children go by the name Sugiyama from their mother. People usually take granted that, within a name-defined family, there is genetic continuity, whether through a male or female biological heir. My children's mother was the daughter of a "bunke" (branch family), and the "honke" (main family) kept most of the family's older records, including older family registers. The registers show all vital events -- birth, death, alliances of marriage and adoption, and dissolutions of such alliances.

At one point in the not so distant the past, the main family of my children's Sugiyama family found itself in a position of having no successor heir -- meaning no child ready, willing, and able to succeed to the head of the family. So the family adopted a man from one family, and a woman who became his wife from another. They were all of the same social class, however -- "shizoku" or gentrified members of former samurai families. And the adopted couple assumed the responsibility of managing Sugiyama family assets and caring for Sugiyama family graves, in which their own remains were eventually consecrated.

In one of her first letters to me, by way of introducing her own family with my 1st cousin Robert Van Ryswyk, his wife, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, wrote this about their children (email, 9 August 2013, [bracketed] amendments mine).

We were unable to have biological children. In 1976 we accepted the challenge of raising 3 orphaned siblings from Viet Nam. They were part of a family of 10 children whose father, a high ranking military official working with the US, died in a suspicious vehicle accident just prior to the fall of Viet Nam into Communism. Their mother died about a year later after fleeing to Laos leaving the children on their own. Family absorbed 4 of the children leaving 6 to fend for themselves. After 2 years in a refugee camp they came to our home to live in June of 1976. That fall we received word we had been chosen to adopt a child from Korea. The leaders of the Tai Dam people made the decision the 3 oldest children should move out of our home and in with family to allow us to adopt. May of 1977 Joshua Andrew, age 4 months, was added to our family.

Raising foreign born older children, having brought with them much emotional baggage, was not easy and we were so very young. However, we offered them love and a stable environment and in spite of our inexperience they grew to be loving adults. All three of these kids live in California. We see them as often as possible but wish it could be more. Joshua lives outside of Des Moines in the town of Waukee. He is 36 and not married. He graduated from Simpson College and for a few [years] was in Financial Management with his brother Oai Bacam. He decided to return to Iowa and followed his love of cooking to the Iowa Institute of Culinary Arts where he graduated with honors. He spent the next 6 weeks in France as an intern. He loves his new career and does very well.

Consanguineous marriages

"Same blood" marriages have also been relatively common in Japan, where attitudes toward "incest" are more flexible than in some other countries. In the United States as well, marriages between 1st, 2nd, or 3rd cousins -- straight up or once removed -- have been more common than many people I have met -- under the spell of myths about the pervasiveness of "incest taboos" 00 seem to think.

My own maternal-paternal-maternal (great-great) grandparents were straight-up 1st cousins. And there were 2nd and 3rd cousin marriages in contemporary and later branches of these families.

See Cousin marriages on the "Hardman-Gallaher" family page.


Warren Wetherall Kathy Kathy
Nellie Warren Kathy

Three generations of Warren Wetherall's branch of Wetherall-Van Houton family
Warren Wetherall, his daughter Kathy, and Warren with his mother Nellie and Kathy
Portrait of Warren circa 1980s, childhood photos of Kathy circa 1950s, three-shot dated 1964
Mary Wells (Van Ryswyk) family photos (scanned by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)

Warren H. Wetherall (1925-1999)

Warren Henry Wetherall was the 2nd born of the Wetherall-Van Houton union. He settled in California and appears to have visited my father, his older half-brother, in Grass Valley, along with Nellie, who was living with Warren. And I believe my father visited them once while in southern California to deal with some legal matter.

The following obituary for Warren has been posted by both the Knoxville Alumni Association and Marion Obituaries (maintained by Allen Hibbard) on the IAGenWeb genealogy website.

Warren Henry Wetherall

Warren Knoxville Alumni Association

A memorial service for Warren H. Wetherall, 74, of Banning, California who died November 3, at San Gorganio Memorial Hospital, was held November 11, 1999. Interment will be at Riverside National Cemetery in California.

He was born January 2, 1925 in Des Moines and graduated from Knoxville High School in 1943.

Warren served in the U.S. Army during WW II. He retired from the U.S. Postal Office in Banning.

He is survived by one daughter Kathleen Wetherall, one brother William B. Wetherall of Grass Valley, Conn [sic = California], three sisters, Marge Thomas of Banning, Helen Morrison of Waterloo and Mary Wells of Carlisle.

Knoxville Journal-Express December 1, 1999

Mary Sue Van Ryswyk had this to say about Warren, reflecting both from Mary's testimony and her own observations as a member of the family (email 2013).

Warren Wetherall was married for a short time and they had a daughter Kathy. The wife left the two of them with no explanation and little was ever heard of her again. Warren left Kathy with Mary & James who did their best to convince Warren to allow them to adopt and raise her. But Nellie wanted to help Warren raise Kathy and finally the three of them left for Banning California. Warren worked for the US Postal service and raised Kathy as a son. She went to college and got a degree in criminal justice but never had a job as Warren wanted her home to take care of him. Warren & Kathy had little ambition thus Kathy's predicament today. I believe Warren died of a heart ailment. Nellie died of a malignant brain tumor.

Mary & James had to pay for Nellie's funeral as well as Warren's. Later when Marjorie passed Mary had to pay for her funeral as well.

Warren was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on 2 January 1925 and died on 3 November 1999 in Banning, California. He was buried on 15 November 1999 at the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California, as a World War II veteran.

Warren was 18 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Iowa on 21 May 1943. He began his military service on 28 May 1943, trained at Camp Dodge in Iowa, and was discharged as a PFC on 6 March 1946. On 5 May 1949, he applied to the State of Iowa, and apparently received, a monetary bonus of $357.50 a few hundred dollars 3-years of military service. The application states that he began a tour of foreign service on 23 November 1944 and returned on 1 March 1946, which was 5 days before his release from active duty.

Warren's foreign service was in Germany, according to a June 1945 obituary for Carl Sailors, Nellie's 2nd husband. His surviving relatives included "four step-children, Mrs. Mary Van Ryswyk of Knoxville, Pfc. Warren Wetherall in Germany, Helen Anne and Marjorie Jean Wetherall at home".


Kathy letter Kathy letter
Kathy letter

Kathy Wetherall's letter accompanying family history materials she sent to Bill and Orene Wetherall in Grass Valley on 16 December 1997
The package included 2nd and 3rd generation copies of photographs, obituaries, and vital records, identified only only by captions, but also by post-its.
Wetherall Family Collection

William E. Wetherall (born 2 June 1834) was 21, and Mary A. Hall (born 16 August 1841) was 14, when they married in New Salem, Pennsylvania, on 8 November 1855 (date given in her obituary). More about WEW is found in his obituaries. See Wetherall-Beaman family history page for images.
The Wetherall-Hall union was not an especially unusual one at the time, when many women began producing families from their mid teens.

Kathy Wetherall

In her reply to my first letter to Mary Wells, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk said this in response to my query about Kathy Wetherall (email 8 August 2013).

As to Kathy Wetherall, we have no knowledge of her location. She lost her house and car and virtually began living on the streets and in shelters. We have no address, email or phone number for her. She did call Mary awhile back asking for money or help with a place to live but was using a pre-paid cell phone. It bothers Mary that she is unable to help Kathy but at 90 years of age is unable to do so either physically or financially.

The good new is that Kathy seems to be doing well enough to know what's going on in the world and within her own family. She posted the following remarks to an obituary about Mary that had been posted on Legacy.com on 18 September 2016, over a month after I had begun corresponding with Mary Sue Van Ryswyk.

Sorry to read about Aunt Mary, she will be missed by me. Having memories of the past, like times on the farm and the last time I saw her will always be remembered. Love to all of you, and God Bless.

Kathy Wetherall

September 18, 2016 | Banning, CA

Kathy -- If you see this, please contact me! -- Billy

Amateur radio buffs

Apparently Warren was an amateur radio enthusiast, and Kathy became one after his death. A list of FCC Registered Amateur Radio Licenses in Banning, California included the following information when viewed in August 2013.

Call Sign: KD6JDN
Grant Date: 12/31/1996, Expiration Date: 05/05/2002, Cancellation Date: 05/06/2004
Registrant: Warren H Wetherall, Banning, CA 92220

Call Sign: KF6DLD, Licensee ID: L01113159
Grant Date: 01/31/2006, Expiration Date: 04/30/2016, Certifier: Kathleen A Wetherall
Registrant: Kathleen A Wetherall, Banning, CA 92220

The same link, viewed in January 2018, showed the same information for Warren but the following updated information for Kathy.

Call Sign: KF6DLD, Licensee ID: L01113159,
Grant Date: 02/09/2016, Expiration Date: 04/30/2026, Certifier: Kathleen A Wetherall,
Registrant: Kathleen A Wetherall, Banning, CA 92220

From this it appears that

  1. Warren qualified about 3 years before his death in 1999. The qualification expired posthumously in 2002, and in 2004 it was canceled, though his call number is still listed.
  2. Kathy herself qualified for a 10-year license from early in 2006 about 7 years after Warren died.
  3. Kathy renewed her license for another 10 years, from early in 2016, which was 3 years after her aunt Mary and cousin Mary Sue reported that she had been having difficulties making a living, but over half a year before Mary passed away, after which Kathy posted her condolences on a memorial website.

Family history

I had asked my father about Kathy because I was aware that she had done a lot of work on our common family history. I had seen the packet of documents she sent my father with a cover letter, and had seen another letter in which she mentioned my name, because my father had told her that I, too, I was working on our family history. So I told him I would write her, but he advised me not to get involved. At the time I knew nothing about the situation that Mary Sue later reported to me. But I knew that my father not have given me such advise without reason. He did not elaborate but said only that "she has problems". And I surmised they were problems that he felt he himself could not, or should not, help her with.

In the late 1990s, I organized family photos for the second and final time, while going through them with my mother, who was always more than willing to talk about her family. This was between 1998 and 2000 or so, a decade before I finally got my father to sit down to go through his family photos and some of the detritus he pulled out of his closet. In any event, by the turn of the century, I was aware that Kathy Wetherall, my 1st cousin, who I have never met, had done a lot of work on the history of the 4 generations of the Wetherall in Knoxville, Iowa.

Under a cover letter dated 16 December 1997, in a Priority Mail wrapper, Kathy had sent my parents a very thick sheaf of family history documents. They consisted many pages of photographs, machine copies of death certificates, computer printouts of genealogical data, and copies of obituaries, and copies of biographical information on family members and related topics made from several publications.

Everything was immaculately organized and labeled, using yellow highlighting and post-its with information she had written with a ballpoint pen -- in a neat and confident hand. It is the work of a disciplined reseacher.

She included some family group sheets that she hoped my parents would fill out, to help her complete my father's branch of the extended family that she had illuminated with her research. She had done a lot of work, including leg work that took her to county offices in Iowa to obtain vital documents. And her work would form the nucleus of my own work on the Wetherall side of my family, which has also benefited from the work done by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk, and other near and distant relatives I have crossed paths with Ancestry.com and elsewhere on the Internet.

Samual and Hannah Beaman Samuel Zacharias Beaman and Hannah Elizabeth Walter
Wedding portrait, 1900
Crop of image received from Bill Farley (label removed)
Elaine Hunter Elaine Hunter and her family on 22 December 2000
Crop of captioned image received from Bill Farley

Elaine Hunter

Bill Farley (see "Wetherall-Beaman" family page for details) shared with me many images of Beaman and related family photographs made by his Beaman father-in-law, some of them of photographs owned by Elaine Hunter, who he described as follows (email 29 September 2013)

There is also a picture with an Elaine Hunter with her parents. The picture mentions that she has originals. I'm not sure where she falls in the Beaman tree.

Kathy Wetherall, in the cover letter that accompanied the family history materials she shared with my parents in 1997, also credited Elaine Hunter and described her links with the family like this (letter dated 16 December 1997, see scan above).

Enclosed are copies of some of the papers I have on the family. Part of the information and pictures come from a cousin by the name of Elaine Hunter. She's the granddaughter of Samuel Z. Beaman, he was a younger brother of Laura Belle Wetherall.

Materials Kathy attributed to Elaine Hunter include some of the photographs and obituaries.

Laura Belle (Beaman) Wetherall (1866-1941) and Samuel Zacharias Beaman (1875-1944) were the children of George Washington Beaman (2838-1922) and Sidney (Shoemaker) Beaman (1839-1916). Their children were 1st cousins, and their children's children -- including William Bascom Wetherall (my father) and Warren Wetherall (Kathy's father) on Laura's side, and Elaine Hunter on Samuel's side -- were 2nd cousins.

Ergo -- to Kathy and I, and to other grandchildren of William Riley Wetherall, who was a 1st cousin of Elaine Hunter's father (a child of Samuel Z. Beaman) -- Elaine Hunter is a 2nd cousin once removed.

In other words, Elaine is "a" cousin.
Come to think about it, all people all cousins.
Some are just more distant than others.

Elaine Hunter's Beaman roots

The 1940 census shows Elaine as the 4-year-old daughter of Bernard and Mae Hannebuth, living in Inman township in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. Her parents were living at the same place in 1935. Several members of the Beaman-Shoemaker family settled in and around Otter Tail, and local cemeteries are full of Beaman and extended family graves.

Mae Hannebuth was born Mae Elsie Beaman in Deer Creek, in Otter Tail County, on 14 August 1909, a daughter of Samuel Zacharias Beaman and Hannah Elizabeth (Walter) Beaman (1880-1955). She died on 31 May 2010 in Wadena, which is also in Otter Tail County, and is buried in Inman Cemetery in Henning in Otter Tail County.

Elaine Ellen Hannebuth was born on 2 June 1935 and married Harry Earl Hunter. The Hunters settled in La Crescent, most of which is in Houston County in Minnesota.

Mae Elsie Beaman was a neice of Laura (Beaman) Wetherall, hence a 1st cousin of William Riley Wetherall, and a 2nd cousin of his children, thus once removed from their children, such as myself and my siblings, and our 1st cousins -- the Ryswyk boys, Kathy Wetherall, and Rae Jeanne (Morrison).


Helen Morrison Helen Morrison, circa 1997
Mary Wells Family photo

Helen Anne (Wetherall) Morrison (1928-2002)

Mary Sue Van Ryswyk related the following account of Mary's relationship with her 1st younger sister Helen (email 2013, [bracketed] amendments mine).

Helen was a hellion and caused Mary much grief throughout her life. While single she had a son out of wedlock and named him William Henry Wetherall (later to be named Morrison). She married Loren Morrison and while he was overseas in the [Second World] war she spent every dime he sent her that was intended to help support her as well as save for a down payment on a house. Helen lived with Nellie while Loren was away. Loren adopted Billy and together they had a daughter Rae Jeanne. They never told Billy that Loren was not his biological father until he was an adult and it was devastating to him. He became a mercenary soldier and died December 19, 1997 at the age of 51 years in Highlands, Harare Zimbabwe. He died of sudden coronary artery disease was cremated and his ashes disposed of in Zimbabwe. Helen had to pay $440.00 for his cremation & disposal.

Helen & Loren divorced after Rae Jeanne was out of school and married. Loren later married Rae's mother in law. Loren is now deceased.

Once Helen was single and had a very comfortable settlement (Loren worked for a gas pipeline company and they were very well to do) she really went off the deep end. She took up with younger men and squandered her money on buying taverns and bars. After the [sic = this, that] phase she came back to the Waterloo area where she had lived with Loren and became very involved with the Democratic Party. She was good to come and help Mary but drove her crazy as Helen always had lofty ideas and talked non stop. Helen died of thyroid cancer. Rae Jeanne lives in Wisconsin with her 2nd husband and their blended family. She calls Mary frequently but rarely is back here to visit.

Life's obstacle course

I met Helen, Loren, Billy, and Rae Jeanne at the 1958 Iowa reunion (see above). Those, of course, were the "happier" days for everyone, in the middle of their childhoods and marriages.

Stories like Mary's, about her siblings, remind me of how "normal" every family is in the variety of difficulties that parents and siblings contend with as they endeavor to accept the bonds of blood and adoption that fate has thrust upon them. In the end, all of us have our complaints. And all of us give -- and receive -- qualified praise from those who remain close to us, even as we drift apart.

William B. Wetherall's contingent of the extended Wetherall family that includes me was no different in this respect from the contingents of his half-siblings -- Mary, Warren, Helen, and Marge. Somehow, all of the Wetherall-Baldwin Van Houton siblings managed to navigate their grant of life's obstacle course.

In the end, all of us run the course of life our own way. That any of us are able to run it at all, without stumbling too many times, is perhaps the most we can hope for.


Marjorie Wetherall Marjorie Wetherall and friend
2-3 years old, circa 1935-1936
Wetherall Family photo
Marjorie Wetherall 1950 Marjorie Wetherall in 1950 when a junior
Knoxville High School "K" yearbook, page 20
Copped and cropped from Ancestry.com
The 1949 "K" yearbook pictures Marjorie, then a sophomore,
on the "B" squad basketball team
Marjorie and Virgil Thomas Marge and Virgil Thomas
Probably late 1950s, place unknown
Mary Wells Family photo (scan by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk)
Marjorie Wetherall 1951 High school graduation portrait
Knoxville High School, Class of 1951
Wetherall Family photo

Marjorie Jeanne (Wetherall) Thomas (1933-2001)

Marjorie Wetherall is the most invisible of the Wetherall-Baldwin-Van Houton siblings in the history of the family that has come to my attention. She was born in 1933, hence was 5 years younger than Helen, 8 years younger than Henry, 11 years younger than Mary, and 22 years younger than my father, who moved away the year Helen was born, hence had no recollection of Marjorie other than the scant information he had heard from others, and all he could recall was that she had married a man named Virgil Thomas.

Marjorie was also born practically 3 years to the day before her father died, and so she may have had no clear recollections of him other than those created through stories she later heard about him, and through photographs.

Like her older Wetherall-Van Houton siblings, she grew up with dogs, and is shown to the right, when 2 or 3 years old, holding the lease of a dog more interested in the camera than she was.

Mary Sue Van Ryswyk related the following account of Mary's 2nd younger sister and youngest sibling (email 2013).

Marjorie married Virgil Thomas and they had no children. They also lived in Banning CA and both were content with having very little and living the "lazy" life. I believe Marjorie's was only married to Virgil -- must ask Mary about that. Marjorie died of pancreatic cancer.

As of now, this is all I am able to report about Marjorie.

Marjorie Wetherall 1951 Marge Wetherall's name card
Associated with her 1951 high school graduation portrait
showing spelling of her middle name as "Jeanne"
Wetherall Family Collection


Grass Valley reunions of Wetherall-Van Houton and Wetherall-Baldwin siblings

Grass Valley reunion

Nellie (Van Houton) (Wetherall) Sailors in Grass Valley (Spring 1960)

Nellie's step son, William B. Wetherall, moved his family from San Francisco to Grass Valley, in northern California, in May 1955. The Grass Valley Wetherall's visited Iowa in the summer of 1958 for a huge reunion with the Wetherall-Beaman and Wetherall-Van Houton families and their descendants. Nellie was not there because she was with her son, Warren Wetherall, and his daughter, Kathy Wetherall, in Banning in southern California.

For numerous photographs of the 1958 reunion, see 1958 Iowa reunion on the "Wetherall-Beaman" family page.

However, Nellie visited WBW in Grass Valley in the Spring of 1960. The image to the left is a scan by Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of a photo in the Mary Wells (Van Ryswyk) Family Collection. It may have been taken by Warren, who most likely drove up to Grass Valley, or perhaps they came by Greyhound Bus, which then was both possible and a common way to travel such distances. No cameras in the WBW household at the time took this format of picture. The backyard ends immediately behind the chaise lounges. It would later include half the lot behind it, divided with a neighbor, and split by a high wooden fence.

Grass Valley reunion Grass Valley reunion

Mary and Kathy in Grass Valley (circa 1980s)

William B. Wetherall, with his neice Kathy A. Wetherall, and his sister Mary Arleen (above left), and Kathy and Mary (above right). WBW and Kathy have cameras. However, someone else -- possibly my mother, possibly Warren -- took the picture with another camera. The images are scans I made from prints in the Wetherall Family Collection. WBW's camera is the late 1960s vintage black Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SLR I had given him, one of two which I had owned. The other one, which was silver, I sold to a friend.

They are sitting in the extended part of the back yard my parents developed after they split the lot between their home and the neighbor's home. You can see the high wooden fence that marked the new properly line in the background of the photo to the left.

This part of the garden was immediately off the patio just outside the dining room, and could be seen through the dining room and kitchen windows. It was one of WBW's and Orene's favorite spots, and both invested a lot of time in caring for the variety of flowers they planted around the area.

Mary visits Grass Valley (circa 1999)

Warren died in 1999, and I suspect that Mary visited my father again at this time. Kathy may have come with her and taken the picture to the right. The image is a scan by Mary Sue Ryswyk of a print in the Mary Wells (Van Ryswyk) Family Collection.

This is the best of all pictures of my father with his oldest younger sister. They were 11 years apart, but he shared more time with her than with his other half siblings. Warren was 3-1/2 years old and Helen was 6-months old when WBW graduated from high school and left home. Marge was born 5 years later. Only Mary appears to have had childhood memories of him, and they appear to have been good ones.

Grass Valley reunion


Chronology of Wetherall-Baldwin-Van Houton family through censuses

Wetherall-Baldwin-Van Houton family in 1830 to 1930 censuses
1895 1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1940
William R.
Des Moines
Des Moines
Des Moines
Died 1936
Ida M.
Kentucky Spokane
Died 1923
Van Houton
Nellie M.
Des Moines
Des Moines
Des Moines
Des Moines

William Riley Wetherall was born on 2 May 1890 to a father born in Iowa and a mother born in Ohio (see above). He was probably enumerated in the 1 June 1890 census but most of it was destroyed by fire.

1895 Iowa census shows "William Wetherell" (sic = Wetherall) (4) residing in 3rd Ward of Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa (unconfirmed partial transcription data).

William Riley Wetherall   The 1900 census for Knoxville, Iowa, shows WRW as "William R." living with his parents and siblings at their home at 803 Pleasant St. in knoxville.

1905 Iowa census card index shows WRW as "William Wetherall" living with his parents and siblings.

William Riley Wetherall   The 1910 census for Ames, Iowa, enumerated on the 29th and 30th of April, shows WRW as "William Weatherall" (sic) residing as a boarder at a private home while working as a printer. He is shown as single. He would marry on 1 June that year.

William Weatherall (sic = Wetherall), Lodger, M, W, 19, Single
Born in Iowa, father and mother born in Iowa
Printer, Job Printing Co.

He is boarding at 421 Main St., the home of Melvina M. Hedgson (Head, 63, Widow, no occupation), Flora N. Hedgson (Daughter, 37, Single, Housekeeper, at home), and Addie Shockley (Sister, 50, Widow, Solictor, on the road).

Sex (M = male, F = female), Race (W = white), Age (years),
Marital status (M = married, S = single, Wd = Widowed, D = Divorced)
(sic = XYZ) = Shown as recorded but should be XYZ

William Riley Wetherall   The 1920 census for Des Moines, Iowa shows Wm. R. Wetherall as a roomer living at 1611 13th St. -- male, white, 30, married, born in Iowa to parents born in Iowa, a printer by occupation working in a shop.

Ida Mae Wetherall   The 1920 census for North Idaho Asylum in Orofino, Idaho shows Ida Wetherall as a patient described as female, white, 36 (sic = 30 or 32), single, born in Kentucky of parents born in the United States, a stenographer by occupation. Practically all other female patients are housewives by occupation. The first-listed resident staff member is John W. Givens, male, white, 65, widowed, born in California of parents born in Indiana, a medical superintendent working at a sanitorium.

1925   1925 Iowa census for Des Moines in Polk County shows the WRW family living at 1308 E 25 Court. Wetherall Wm R, Head, 35, owns the home, which is valued at and insured for $2500 but has a $2100 mortgage on it. Living with him are Wetherall Nellie, Wife, 25; Wetherall Mary A, Daughter, 2; and Wetherall Wm B, Son, 13. Wm R, Nellie, and Wm B completed 8 grades of grade school (Rural 1-4, Grade 1-8, High School 9-12). All three can read and write. Wm B attended 9 months of school in 1924.

The second page of the census shows the names and places of birth of the parents of each member of the houshold, and the names of localities where they were married. The data for Wm. B Wetherall correctly states that his mother's name was Ida Baldwin and his father's name was Wm. R. Wetherall, and that they were married in Seward, Nebraska but incorrectly says that she was born in Iowa, when in fact she was born in Kentucky.

Warren was born on 2 January that year, the day the census was evaluated, was was not included because the census was a record of residence as of 1 January.

1930   April 1930 census shows Wetherall William R as head of family living at 4152 East 32nd Street in Des Moines. He owns the home, valued at $4,500, and the family has a radio set. He was 39 at the time and "Age at first marriage" was 31. He was born in Iowa, his father in Iowa, and his mother in Pennsylvania. Family members included Nellie M, wife, age 31, age at first marriage 22, born in Iowa, father born in New Jersey, mother born in Ireland; Mary I (sic = I), daughter, 7; Waren (sic = Warren) H, Son, 5; and Helen A, daughter, 2-2/12. William R is said to be a "Printer" working at a "Publishing Co". No" is written in the box under "Whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces / Yes or No".

1935   1940 census shows that Nellie and the children were living in Audubon, Iowa as of 1 April 1935.

1940   April 1940 census shows Wetherall, Nellie residing as head of household at 527 Robinson Street in Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa. She is renting the home for 20 dollars a month. Nellie, 41, widowed, a "Seamstress" who had worked in a "Sewing room" for 32 [52?] weeks the previous year and earned 475 dollars. The box for "doing public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of 24-30 March" is marked "Yes". Living with her are Mary 17, Warren 15, Helen 12, Marjorie 6, and Garrison Emerson, Lodger, 73. The census notes that, as of 1 April 1935, Nellie and the four children were living in Audubon, Iowa. Garrison Emerson, however, was living at the same address, i.e., 527 Robinson Street. His occupation was described as "Old Age Asst." so perhaps he was receiving public assistance.


Baldwin headstones Baldwin family headstones
Woodlawn Cemetery, St. Maries, Idaho
N. Bascum and M. Ellen Baldwin (back center)
Ida Baldwin Wetherall (front left)
Other headstones not Baldwin graves
Wetherall Family photo
Baldwin headstone Bascum and Ellen Baldwin's headstone
Woodlawn Cemetery, St. Maries, Idaho
Photograph by Khat copped from Find A Grave
William F. Wetherall headstone Ida Wetherall headstone
Nellie Wetherall Sailors headstone

Headstones of William Riley Wetherall (1890-1936)
and his 1st wife Ida Mae (Baldwin) Wetherall (1890-1923)
and his 2nd wife Nellie Marie (Van Houton) (Wetherall) Sailors (1898-1966)
WRW's and Nellie's headstones in Graceland Cemetery, Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa
Photographs by Ron Steenhoek, images copped from Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com)
Ida's headstone in Woodlawn Cemetery, Saint Maries, Benewah County, Idaho
Photograph by Khat copped from Find A Grave

James and Mary Van Ryswyk headstone Van Ryswyk Parents headstone

1st and 2nd headstones of Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells (1922-2016)
and her 1st husband James Milfred Van Ryswyk (1918-1979)
Pleasantville Cemetery, Pleasantville, Marion County, Iowa
Photographs by Carl Nollen, images copped from Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com)

Wetherall-Baldwin-Van Houton graves

The graves of the Wetherall-Baldin and Wetherall-Van Houton familes are widely scattered.

Ida Mae (Baldwin) Wetherall

Ida Mae (Baldwin) Wetherall (1890-1923) is buried with her parents and a sister and brother-in-law in the Baldwin-Steele family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in St. Maries, Idaho. See Baldwin-Steele graves for details.

William Riley Wetherall

William Riley (1890-1936) is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Iowa. Photographs of his grave are forthcoming.

William Bascom Wetherall

William Bascom Wetherall (1911-2013), like his wife L. Orene (Hardman) Wetherall (1913-2003), was cremated. See Wetherall-Hardman and related families for details.

Nellie (Van Houton) (Wetherall) Sailors

William B. Wetherall's step-mother, Nellie Marie Sailors (1898-1966), half-brother Warren Wetherall (1925-1999), and youngest half-sister Marjorie Jean Thomas (1933-2001), all died in Banning, California. Nellie and Warren, are said to have been buried in Riverside, California, and perhaps Marge is also buried there. His 2nd half-sister, Helen Anne Morrison, died in Luck, Polk County, Wisconsin, and possibly she is buried there.

Van Ryswyk graves in Pleasantville Cemetery

Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, a great-great granddaughter of Simon and Magdalina Shoemaker, and her 1st husband, James Ryswyk, share a headstone at Pleasantville Cemetery.

Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells (1922-2016)
James Milfred Van Ryswyk (1918-1979)

Mary's father was William Riley Wetherall, a son of Laura Belle Beaman, a daughter of Sydney Shoemaker, a daughter of Simon and Magdalina.

When James died in 1979, Mary erected a tombstone on which she had her own name and year of birth engraved, expecting to be buried with him. She later remarried, and when she passed away in 2016, her family replaced the first headstone with a new one, bearing the following inscription referring to them as simply the parents of their three sons.


Mary's 2nd husband, G.D. Jack Wells (1911-1990), is buried with his 1st wife, Irene R. Wells (1914-1982), Avon Cemetery in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa.