52 Ancestors: James Alvin Clark (1868-1911)

James Alvin Clark (1868-1911)

Amy Johnson Crow used a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Although Amy decided to stop posting on this challenge, Randy Seaver has continued posting his ancestors on Geneamusings.com. I’ve decided to start posting my ancestors on a weekly basis. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to clean my data and sources.

James Alvin Clark is #10 on my Ahnentafel list. He is my paternal great-grandfather. He married Belle Maud Fleharty 1896 in Illinois, USA.

I am descended from him through:

  • #5 Edith Helen Clark (1905-1986), his daughter and my paternal grandmother.
  • #2 William Clark Ditman (1933-1997), his grandson and my father.

James Alvin Clark (1868-1911)

James Alvin Clark (1868-1911)



Name: James Alvin Clark
Sex: Male
Father: Marcus Clark (1830-1894)
Mother: Martha Jane Baggs (1844-1899) [4]

Facts and Events

  • Birth: 09 Dec 1868 in Good Hope, McDonough, Illinois, USA [5]
  • Census: 1880 (age 11);Sciota, McDonough, Illinois, USA [2]
  • Letter: Love letter to Belle Maud Fleharty;9 Dec 1893 [5]
  • Letter: Love letter to Belle Maud Fleharty;Feb. 24, 1894;Santarium [6]
  • Census: 1900 (age 30);Neenah Ward 3, Winnebago, Wisconsin [8,13]
  • Census: 1910 (age 41);Pasadena, California [9]
  • Death: 10 Nov 1911 (age 42);Pasadena, Los Angeles, USA [10]
  • Occupation: 1900 Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd Universalist Church [11,12]

Marriages and Children

  • Belle Maud Fleharty (1872-1957)
    • Marriage: 19 Nov 1896, Galesburg, Knox, Illinois, USA [7]
      • Children:
        • Delta Sigma Clark (1897-1989)
        • Theda G Clark (1900-1986)
        • Mary Elizabeth Clark (1902-1984)
        • James Alvin Clark, Jr. (1904-1975)
        • Edith Helen Clark (1905-1986)


[2] 1880 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints© Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.  All use is subject to the limite), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Sciota, Mc Donough, Illinois; Roll: T9_228; Family History Film: 1254228; Page: 22, Dwelling #202, Family # 199; Enumeration District: 168; Image: 0167. Birth date:  abt 1869  Birth place:  Illinois  Residence date:  1880  Residence place:  Sciota, Mc Donough, Illinois, United States.

[3] In the 1880 United States Federal Census, the Marcus Clarke family was enumerated on 11 Jun 1880 residing in Sciota, McDonough, Illinois, USA. The household included:

  • Marcus Clarke, male, head, age 49;born in Indiana;Farmer;father born in Kentucky;mother born in Kentucky;
  • Jane Clarke, female, wife, age 35;born in Illinois;father born in Kentucky;mother born in Kentucky;
  • Lizzie Clarke, female, daughter, age 15;born in Illinois;
  • Freddie Clarke, male, son, age 14;born in Illinois;
  • James Clarke, male, son, age 11;born in Illinois;
  • Burtie Clarke, male, son, age 3;born in Illinois;
  • Calvin Harvey, male, boarder; age 44;born in Illinois;Laborer;

[4] Unknown Author, Note to James Alvin Clark, undated. [The original handwritten letter is in the possession of Kimberly Joy Ditman. This note details the genealogical lines that James descends from.]

The transcription of this note follows:

Your Mother’s great grandfather’s name was James Guthrie; he was one of the Early settlers of Jefferson Co Ky. and your Mother’s grandfather’s name was James Guthrie. I do not know what his wife’s name was; they both died when your grandmother Guthrie and sister Mary, now Mrs. Mary Glover, were small, then then their Aunt Elizabeth Guthrie raised the two girls. She was living then in Louisville, Ky. Fred Baggs and Martha Guthrie were married in Indiana, then moved to Columbus Adams Co, Ill. where she died leaving Martha Jane and Charles Baggs. When small, your father and mother were married when your grandfather was living near Blandinsville, Ill.

[5] James Alvin Clark, Letter to Belle Maud Fleharty, 9 Dec 1893. [The original handwritten letter is in the possession of Kimberly Joy Ditman.]

The transcription of this letter follows:

Miss Fleharty:

I sometimes write poetry
As I think you’ll find out
And the object of this
I will tell you about.

When I woke up this morning
It was first striking five,
And I said to myself
“Well, I’m glad I’m alive”

But what terrible weather!
How it comes I can’t say
’cause I wanted it lovely
On this my birthday

How aged I feel
At twenty five years,
I may see a hundred-
But I have my fears

You’re just sweet sixteen
So some one tells me.
But who was it told me?
Whom do you think it could be?

There! The point of this rhyme
I [?] not forget
And why I’m writing this
I’ve not told you yet.

At a place called Randall
Out east of the city
Is a lot of poor heathen
Whom I think we should pity

So I ask you to come
And go with us tonight
For I know you’re quite apt
As a teacher of right

And with one protege

Why not take up some more
And help out us “theologs”,
We need it, I’m sure.

Please answer this missive,
If you choose with your pen
I entreat you, don’t be formal,
As you sometimes have been.

Now with this injunction
I shall bid you adiu
And thus say no more
Till I chance to see you.

I shall call at seven
If it is agreeable be
And until then –
Good bye, yours J.A.C.

December 9th, 1893

[6] James Alvin Clark, Letter to Belle Maud Fleharty, 24 Feb 1894. [The original handwritten letter is in the possession of Kimberly Joy Ditman. This letter was written from the Sanitarium. Was he at a Sanitarium as a pastor or was he recovering from an illness?]

The transcription of this letter follows:

Sanitarium, 11.45 P.M. Feb. 24, 1894

Of all the beautiful pictures
that hang on memory’s walls,
Is one of a charming young lady
that seemeth the best of all

Not for her singing and dancing,
though in them she might excel,
Not for her charms and graces
though which she might weave love’s fell.

But like the sweet singer of old,
who played in poetical act.
She strives modern [?]
And sings us the songs of the heart

The ballad is most to her liking
And with it she wields a great power
And makes us poor men quite beneath her
And women above us to tower.

Ah me! How she paints their good graces,
as she works in this rhythmical art,
I wonder if she ever thinks
that a man might perhaps have a heart?

Yes we poor insignificant creatures
would be charmed with a live from her pen,
Perhaps she’ll come down from the steeple,
Someday with as much as a thought for us men

But first let me paint you her picture
As she sits over there in her chair
Looking pleasant and happy of course
without a burden or vestige of care.

Her hair not uncommon, appears black,
her eyes seem to be the same hue,
But when I look to discover the color,
I can’t tell for my life – Say can you!

And her cheeks! Do they sometimes have roses
that blush all times of the year?
Well of course, I don’t date tell it all
because she is sitting so near.

For if she should tell me to stop
you see I would have to obey
So that would finish it all
And we couldn’t go on with the play

Nor must I tell all her good graces
for they would fill up a book
Besides she might think, I would flatter
And settle me with one charming look.

So you just remember to ask me
sometimes when she’s not around
And I’ll tell you all about her
E’en her ballads so profound.

But while were on this subject
I’ll tell you one thing more;
She quarreled with me last night
Perhaps she’s done so before.

To be sure it wasn’t serious
but yet it might have been.
And when she gave me a reproachful look
I couldn’t stand it, then.

So I took my hat and left.
And have not seen her today,
Yet I suppose she’s still alive
As it wouldn’t affect her anyway.

She’s such a peculiar [?]
that what’s in her mind You can’t tell.
Say I’m going to stop right here –
Please I don’t know her well.

[7] “Illinois Marriages, 1815-1935,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2GR-STP : accessed 23 January 2016), James Alvin Clark and Belle Maude Fleharty, 19 Nov 1896; citing Galesburg, Knox, Illinois; FHL microfilm 1,412,058.

The transcription of the marriage abstract follows:

Name James Alvin Clark
Spouse’s Name Belle Maude Fleharty
Event Date 19 Nov 1896
Event Place Galesburg, Knox, Illinois
Father’s Name Marcus Clark
Mother’s Name Martha J Baggs
Spouse’s Father’s Name William H Fleharty
Spouse’s Mother’s Name Elizabeth A Terrell

[8] 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004 citing United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Page 20, House #526, Dwelling #415, Family #424; Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

In the 1900 United States Federal Census, the James A Clark family was enumerated on 16 Jun 1900 residing in Neenah, Winnebago, Wisconsin. The household included:

  • James A Clark, male, age 30;born Dec 1869, in Illinois;married 3 years;father born in New York;mother born in New York;Pastor, Universalist Church.
  • Bell M Clark, female, age 29;born Oct 1872, in Illinois;married 3 years;1 child born, 1 child living;father born in Ohio;mother born in Ohio.
  • Delta S Clark, female, age 2;born Oct 1897, in Illinois;single;

[9] 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006; Page 10B, Dwelling #55, Family # 56; citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

In the 1910 United States Federal Census, the James A Clark family was enumerated on 3 May 1910 residing in Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, USA. The household included:

  • James A Clark, head, male, white, age 41;married 14 years;born in Illinois;Mason;Store and cement;father born in Indiana;mother born in Illinois;
  • Belle M Clark, wife, female, white, age 37;married 14 years;born in Illinois;father born in Ohio;mother born in Iowa;
  • Delta S Clark, daughter, female, white, age 12;single;born in Illinois;
  • Theda G Clark, daughter, female, white, age 9;single;born in Wisconsin;
  • Mary E Clark, daughter, female, white, age 8;single;born in Iowa;
  • James A Clark, son, male, white, age 6;single;born in California;
  • Edith H Clark,daughter, female, white, age 4;single;born in California;
[10] Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. citing California Department of Health and Welfare. California Vital Records-Vitalsearch (www.vitalsearch-worldwide.com). The Vitalsearch Company Worldwide, Inc., Pleasanton, California.
The transcription of the death index record follows:
Name: James A Clark
Birth Year: abt 1869
Death Date: 10 Nov 1911
Age at Death: 42
Death Place: Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death was cited by the family as having a wall he was building fall on him and kill him. I have not been able to prove this yet.
[11] Bunn’s Neenah Directory, 1900. The Ralph M Burtis Co., Neenah, Winnebago County, Wisconsin. [document online] http://www.kimberlyblack.com/james-alvin-clark-1868-1911/. Neenah Library, Neenah Winnebago, Wisconsin.
The transcription of this Directory is as follows:
Church of the Good Sheperd – Rev J A Clark, pastor
Danish Lutheran – 306 Bond, Rev H P Jensen, pastor
Danish Lutheran – 520 Division, Rev H P Jenson, pastor
Danish Methodist – 300 Caroline, Rev H J Week, pastor
Danish and Norwegian Lutheran – 325 Washington, Rev J P Naarup, of Oshkosh, pastor
First ME – 215 E Wisconsin av. J D Cole, pastor
First Presbyterian – 215 Church, Fev John E Chapin, pastor
German Evangelical – Bond st, Rev J Schneller, pastor
German Lutheran – 122 Bond, Rev August Kleinhaus, Pastor
German Lutheran – 118 Oak, Rev Albert Froehlke, Pastor
Norwegian Lutheran – 508 South Commercial, Rev Mikel Mikelson, pastor
Seventh Day Adventist – 513 Henry, Rev J C Nielsen, pastor
Universalist – 526 North Commercial, Rev Calvin Clark, pastor
[12] Church History. Compiled by Mrs. Helen Clark Ritger. University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Universalist Church
The Universalist Church, also known as “The Church of The Good Shepherd,” had its own church building on the Island, near the dividing line on North Commercial Street, erected in 1867. The church had numerous pastors; a well-remembered one, Mrs. Mary J. DeLong, served for many years. A pew in the Washington, D.C., Universalist Church is dedicated to her memory.
The church needed remodeling and repairs, and for some time meetings were held in the “little white church on the island,” corner of East Forest Avenue and Second Street, where Roosevelt School now stands.
The former church building was rededicated in April, 1896, and Rev. Eddy served for several years.
Due to its declining membership, the church building was sold in 1904 to Samuel A. Cook, who tore it down and built the present S.A. Cook Armory on the same site.
[13] East Forest Avenue Historic District Preservation Plan April 2012. Neenah Wisconsin Landmarks Commission. http://www.ci.neenah.wi.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Ord-2012-7-Exh-B-East-Forest-Ave-Hist-Dist-Plan.pdf
Note: This document contains references to historic homes in Neenah, Wisconsin. Two of the homes that are noted were occupied in 1900 by neighbors of my great-grandfather, James Alvin Clark. The neighbors were notable members of the elite of Neenah, Wisconsin. On the 1900 census, Henry Spencer Smith and family was living in the next listing below James Alvin Clark at the former address of 532 E Forest Avenue, Neenah, Wisconsin. The address is now 706 East Forest Avenue, Neenah, Wisconsin. Below the Smith home, also on the 1900 census, was Frank B Whiting and his family, which is now 711 East Forest Avenue and across the street from the Smith home.  Since James Clark and family were interviewed before the Smith family and before the Whiting family, I can surmise that the address James Clark lived at was the current address of 803 or 804 East Forest. The buildings currently at 803 and 804 East Forest Avenue were not built until 1923 and 1942 and it is unknown what stood there previously in either case. James Clark was a Universalist Pastor and was renting the house in 1900.

52 Ancestors: William Dittman (1844-1918)

William Dittman (1844-1918)

Amy Johnson Crow used a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Although Amy decided to stop posting on this challenge, Randy Seaver has continued posting his ancestors on Geneamusings.com. I’ve decided to start posting my ancestors on a weekly basis. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to clean my data and sources.

I’ll begin with Generation 3, my great-grandfather, William Ditman.

William Dittman is #8 on my Ahnentafel chart and is my great-grandfather on my paternal side. Beginning this challenge with him is a challenge unto itself.  Two biographies were written about him, I have been unable to prove most of what is said in the biographies, given that the information contradicts itself.

William Dittman (1844-1918)
William Dittman (1844-1918)

Name: William Dittman
Sex: Male
Father: August Dittman (1816-1856)
Mother: Rose Forest (Before 1830-1864)


Birth: 26 Apr 1844 in Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States [8]
Military Service: 1862; C. 19th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, Regular Army [1]
Census: 14,15,16 Jun 1880 (age 30), Sawyer; Elbert, Elbert, Colorado, United States [3]
Census: 1 Jun 1885 (age 36), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [4]
Census: 20 Jun 1900 (age 51), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [5]
Death: 04 Oct 1918 (age 74), farmer; Debeque, Colorado, United States [8]

Marriages and Children

  1. Juliana Rinnert (1855-1933) [2]

Marriage: 23 Oct 1876 in Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States


Gertrude Ditman (1877-1944)
Edgar Park Ditman (1878-1969)
William Ditman (1882-1895)
Cora Ditman (1887-1906)
Raymond Lowel Dittman (1890-1975)
Leroy Lewis Dittman (1890-1973)
Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983)


Different names used: William Ditman/Dittman.  Used 1 or two t’s throughout his life. No known middle name. Born in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Canada and Germany according to who presented the information in Census and biographies.

Different birthdates and years used 1844, 1849.

Physical Description

He was 6′ 4″ and a redhead, according to his son Earl Ditman. Both daughters Cora and Gertrude were redheads. Earl Ditman was a strawberry blond. In his photograph that I inherited, William is shown in a suit (with a Masonic pin), a full head of hair, and a large mustache.


1841 Born in Canada (Probably not accurate, given later birth information)

1844 Born in Michigan or Pennsylvania (Death Certificate says 1844, Penn by Julia Rinnert, his wife)

1849 Born in Erie County, Pennsylvania (Information in biographies)

1854 Immigration from Germany (One census record states he was born in Germany) Father immigrated in 1846. Since William was born in 1844, does this make it doubtful that he came over first then brought his family over?

1861 Arrived in Baltimore, Maryland (May not be him in record) 1855-1856 Family moved to Michigan shortly before his father, August Ditman, died in 1856, according to bio.

1862 Joined Rankin’s Lancers (The lancer regiment never saw action and was disbanded 20 Mar 1862.) Rankin’s Lancers was made up of Canadians and formed in Michigan. Interesting, since you were supposed to be 18 to join the Civil War, but he was only 15 when his mother died in 1864. Beginning to make sense that he was older, perhaps actually born in 1841 or 1844. If he joined in 1862 at 18, then he was born in 1844. Obit and gravestone say 1844.

1867 Returned to Michigan

1869 California working in sawmill

1870 In California

1880 Sawyer in Elbert, Colorado

1918 Died in De Beque, Mesa County, Colorado; It is likely that he actually died from complications from Spanish Flu. His obituary does not state this, but several stories on the same page reference those that died from Spanish Flu during the epidemic in 1918.


  1. Historical Data Systems, comp., U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.Original data – Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from the following list of works.Copyright 1997-2009Historical Data Systems, Inc. PO Box 35Duxbury, MA 02331.Ori), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com.
  2. Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006; FamilySearch.org, William Ditman and Mary Rinnert, 23 Oct 1876, Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States; citing no. B 65 P 192, State Archives, Denver; FHL microfilm 1,690,070. FamilySearch.org, http://www.familysearch.org.
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Elbert, Colorado: Page 10, dwelling #103, family #112, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com), citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1254090; Roll: T9_90; Enumeration District: 41;
  4. “Colorado State Census, 1885,”  indexed database and digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.Ancestry.com), Mesa, Colorado, page 9, Dwelling #183, Family #189, William Ditman household; citing National Archives and Records Administration. Schedules of the Colorado State Census, 1885. Washington, D.C.: Microfilm: M158, Roll: T158_6.
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 18, dwelling 365, family 368, William Ditman household;digital images, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com,; citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1240126; Roll: 126; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0072.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 4A, , Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com); citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.:  Roll: T624_122; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 1374135.
  7. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934;database with images;accessed 23 October 2015), William Dittman, 1907-1933; citing NARA microfilm publication M850 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,634,632.., Widow’s Pension; United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards 1907-1933; Civil War and Later Pension Files, Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  8. Certificate of Vital Record, death certificate, Colorado (Denver, California., State of Colorado, Department of Public Health), William Ditman (certificate dated 27 Apr 1977) (6 Oct 1918). Born: 26 Apr 1844. Occupation: Farmer. Cause of death: Acute Bronchitis. Reported by Mrs William Ditman, DeBeque, Colorado.
  9. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 October 2014), photograph, “gravestone for William Dittman, Memorial No. 47376581, Records of the Mesa Cemetery (Mesa, Mesa, Colorado, United States);” photograph © Susan Tharp.