• Kristin Wenger

Lost and Found (#52Ancestors week 16: Storms)

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

“The Storms of Life.”


That was the title of a sermon series at my church a few years ago. It wasn’t focused on hurricanes, blizzards, or tornadoes; rather, the topic centered on those trials and hardships that we face in life, and how God is with us through them all.


For example, what if...

  • your beloved wife died at just 34 years old, leaving you with five young children?

  • your only option was placing your children in an orphanage for care?

  • some of your children were placed in foster homes or adopted and all traces of them were lost?

  • when you tried to find them, there was absolutely no way to locate them or bring them back home?

  • the last time you saw your twin boys, they were 18 months old and the only memory you had was this photo?

Elmer and Harry Hornberger, 1908, twin sons of Monroe C. and Lizzie (Frankfort) Hornberger

Photo shared by Teresa (Hornberger) Rohrer, granddaughter of William Hornberger


That is exactly what happened to Monroe Cooper Hornberger. I would say he had some major “storms” of life.

Monroe Cooper Hornberger (1875-1944)

Photo shared by Dan Gwinn, fourth cousin of author


Monroe was the closest brother of my great-great grandfather Martin Cooper Hornberger. These boys were sons of the large Martin S. and Mary Ann (Cooper) Hornberger family who lived in the Owl Hill area of Warwick Township, within walking distance of my home.[1] The brothers were only thirteen months apart in age and worked together in a cigar factory as adults. In fact, after he was widowed, Monroe lived with Martin and his family at the time this photo was taken in 1910.[2]

Martin C. and Katie (Nagle) Hornberger with children (L-R) Irvin, Floyd, Erla, and Albert, 1910

This family had some serious storms of their own when Katie was murdered.

Photo shared by Dan Gwinn, fourth cousin of author


Monroe was living with his brother’s family in 1910, but what had happened to bring him to that point?


Monroe's Wife and Children

Monroe C. Hornberger married Lizzie Frankfort on 18 December 1897 in Rothsville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[3]


The couple soon had five children:

  • Della (June 1899)[4]

  • William (March 1902)[5]

  • Mamie (1904)[6]

  • Twins Elmer and Harry (April 1907)[7]

On 4 September 1908, the family was dealt a great blow when Lizzie died of heart failure at the age of only 34.[8]

Gravestone of Lizzie (Frankfort) Hornberger

Rothsville United Zion Cemetery, Twin Brook Road, Rothsville, Pennsylvania, photo by author


What happened to the children after their mother’s death? Monroe had to keep working and could not care for five young children at the same time. Evidently, no one in the extended family was able to take them in. I attempted to trace what happened to each of Monroe’s children.


DELLA

Della in her nurse's uniform

Photo shared by Karen Keehan Odendahl, granddaughter of Della (Hornberger) Stackhouse


Monroe’s oldest daughter, Della, fared relatively well. By 1910, eleven-year-old Della was living on North Broad Street of Lititz in the home of Dr. Joseph C. and Sarah Jenkins. She was listed as a “servant” and “child nurse,” apparently serving as somewhat of a mother’s helper for two preschool-age children.[9] Perhaps living with a physician’s family prompted her next steps of attending nursing school at the Women’s Hospital of Philadelphia.[10] It is clear that Monroe was able to stay in touch with Della since he listed her as his closest relative on his World War I draft card.[11] Della married and had four children.[12]

Monroe's draft card proves that he was in contact with his oldest daughter Della.


WILLIAM

William Hornberger as an adult

Photo shared by Teresa (Hornberger) Rohrer, granddaughter of William Hornberger


In 1910, William, age 8, and Mamie, age 6, were listed as “inmates” in the Lancaster County Children’s Home on South Ann Street in Lancaster City.[13] William eventually was adopted by Ephraim and Annie Geib and worked on their farm in Rapho Township, Lancaster County. William married his wife Josephine when they were only 16 and 15 years old.[14] (I know William’s circumstances must have forced him to grow up quickly, but the thought of my own 16-year-old son being a married father is just a bit sobering.) In 1920, the teenage couple and their baby David lived with the Geibs.[15] William remained a farmer in Rapho Township throughout his adult life and he and Josephine went on to have a total of seven children.[16]

William and Josephine's gravestone includes their wedding date. They were married at only 15 and 16 years old!


MAMIE

After her inclusion in the list of children in the County Children’s Home, I could find absolutely no trace of Mamie. Did she die? Was she adopted by a family who changed her name? I attempted to find records for the Lancaster County Children’s Home (also called “The Home for Friendless Children”) which operated at the corner of South Ann Street and Chester Avenue from 1900 to 1941 and housed children ages 4-10. However, very few records of this institution survive and information on individual children does not exist.[17] Mamie’s fate remained a mystery.


*UPDATE* (January 2019): I found Mamie's adoption records. Read about them and the whole new mystery to which they led here.


ELMER AND HARRY

Monroe and Lizzie's twin sons Elmer and Harry in 1908 prior to Lizzie's death

Photo shared by Teresa (Hornberger) Rohrer, granddaughter of William Hornberger


Because they were only 16 months old at the time of their mother’s death, the twins would have been too young to be placed in the Lancaster County Children’s Home with William and Mamie. Instead, they went to the Mennonite Children’s Home in Millersville, Lancaster County.[18] In 1910, they were living in a home run by two single sisters in their 50s who were caring for six toddlers from the “Aid Society.”[19] When they were older, the boys went to live with separate families in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.[20] Whether they were placed in loving homes or taken in as farm laborers is not clear. Harry did take the last name Shuster as an adult, while Elmer kept the surname Hornberger.[21]


In summary, Monroe was able to stay in touch with his two older children, but he lost all traces of Mamie, Harry, and Elmer when they were placed in homes.


Monroe’s Life in Lititz

Since Lititz is my hometown, researching ancestors who lived here is especially interesting because I am familiar with locations and can place them in context. What was going on in Monroe’s life after he lost contact with his three younger children?


First, he lived with his brother Martin.[22] Presumably because that family had more than enough trouble of its own, he began living as a boarder with the Shoemaker family at 113 South Spruce Street, just a block south of Lititz Springs Park. He continued his work in one of the local cigar factories.[23]


His neighbors a few houses away at 121 South Spruce Street were the Reidenbach family: father Harry was a photographer with his own studio and mother Lizzie was home caring for their six children. Prior to their marriage, Lizzie had worked as a “bretzel roller” (as pretzel was spelled at that time) in the family business.[24] Her grandfather was none other than Julius Sturgis, founder of the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, now a Lititz landmark.


Details of the relationships are unknown, but Harry and Lizzie divorced. Monroe, after being a widower for many years, married his second wife, Lizzie M. (Sturgis) Reidenbach.

Monroe and his second Lizzie

Photo shared by Teresa (Hornberger) Rohrer, granddaughter of William Hornberger


Monroe and Lizzie, along with her two youngest children, lived at 139 East Main Street in Lititz.[26] This address jumped out at me because it is now home to another well-known building in town: the Lititz Historical Foundation’s Johannes Mueller house![27] I was thrilled to discover this connection to Lititz history!

Monroe and Lizzie rented part of what is now the Johannes Mueller House


I was somewhat comforted to know that Monroe had a second chance at love and did not remain alone for the rest of his life. But the question remained: Did he ever reunite with his three younger children?


Found!

This newspaper article reveals that Monroe did get to meet his twin sons, whom he hadn’t seen since they were 18 months old:[28]


When those boys, now grown men approaching their twenty-third birthday, appeared at Monroe’s door, can you imagine his emotions? (I think of their reunion every time I see the door of this very house when I volunteer at the Lititz Museum next door).


BUT… his daughter, whom he remembered as a precious little four-year-old girl, was still lost. Monroe's children were both lost and found, so his joy was hindered by sorrow.


I just had to know. What had become of Mamie? Did her father ever find her?


The DNA Connection

I couldn’t help but think, if only Monroe and Mamie had access to today’s DNA tests, they could have found each other so easily! Even when there are no paper records available, family reunions of birth families are happening every day thanks to advances in genetic genealogy.


There was no paper trail for Mamie. I had just about given up on ever finding out what happened to her when genetic genealogy entered the equation. I was contacted by one of my DNA matches. In this case, I figured out that we are third cousins, once removed. The chart below illustrates how we are related.[29]


Karen originally reached out to me about a different question, but I noticed that she was Monroe’s great-granddaughter and more directly linked to this family. As Della’s granddaughter, I wondered if Della had passed down any information about her long-lost sister Mamie. Karen contacted her oldest cousin, whom she recalled had spoken about “Aunt Mamie” in the past.


She relayed a story that I never would have found in any records:

“Mamie had been adopted, but she was more a servant in someone's house. Whereas Della remained in the orphanage. My cousin remembers a story between Della and Mamie where they decided that Della had the better life because, while she did have to help out around the orphanage, that same orphanage ended up paying for her to go to nursing school. So she was "luckier" in that she got an education and she didn’t have to clean up after everyone.”[30]

Clearly, Mamie had at least reunited with her older sister Della. But when did it happen? She was still “missing” at the time of the newspaper articles in 1930. Monroe died in 1944.[31] Did she find him in time?


I asked Karen, who phoned her cousin, and reported back that Mamie did not meet her dad. However, she shared a fantastic story about how Della and Mamie found each other.


"Della used to go up to a farmers’ market in Lancaster/Lititz area (not sure exactly where) on a regular basis. One of the vendors there told her, 'You know, there’s a woman that comes here that looks just like you'. So Della laughed and said, “Okay, let her know I’ll be here at x time and date and we can meet.” Mamie showed up and they figured out they were sisters! How random is that?! It was somewhere between 1945-1949. Mamie and Della developed a relationship after that. Mamie was around quite often and was woven into the family. [32]

Just this week, Karen sent me this photograph showing Mamie reunited with her siblings.

Children of Monroe Hornberger (along with some spouses) together in 1968

Mamie is third from right and Della is second from right

(Note: Karen and I discussed the exact identities of each individual in the photo, but since we were not absolutely 100% sure, I only labeled Mamie and Della for now.)


As young children, these siblings faced tremendous "storms of life" that ripped their family apart, but they made it through to find joy and each other again. I can just imagine Della and Mamie's awe in seeing each other for the first time in close to 40 years at a farmer's market, all because someone took the time to mention that they resembled each other. Amazing!


If you feel lost in the "storms of life", remember the One who gives us hope that we will come through to experience the joy of being found on the other side.


Takeaway for your family history:

Connect with your DNA matches! Especially those who are 4th cousins or closer may have family photos or stories they can share that could never be found in records.


Sources:

[1] "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWFR-TCJ : 15 July 2017), Monroe Hornberger in household of Martin Hornberger, Warwick, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district ED 118, sheet 305A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1140; FHL microfilm 1,255,140.


[2] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG79-1HB : accessed 2 April 2018), Monroe Hornberger in household of Martin C Hornberger, Warwick, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 147, sheet 7A, family 143, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1355; FHL microfilm 1,375,368.


[3] "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VF9W-5TF : 18 October 2017), Monroe C. Hornberger and Lizzie Frankfort, 1897.


[4] "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M33V-CJP : accessed 13 April 2018), Della F Hornberger in household of Monroe C Hornberger, Warwick Township, Southern District, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 113, sheet 11A, family 214, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,426.


[5] "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J2WW-TZ9 : 19 May 2014), William Hornberger, Sep 1968; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).


[6] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG6X-YK9 : accessed 13 April 2018), Mamie Hornberger, age 6, Lancaster Ward 7, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 79, sheet 8A, family , NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1354; FHL microfilm 1,375,367.


[7] Pennsylvania, "Birth Certificates, 1906-1910" database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 April 2018), entry for Monroe Hornberger Jr [corrected to Elmer Monroe Hornberger on 16 March 1964], 24 April 1907; citing Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Birth no. 38750, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg. Also, Pennsylvania, "Birth Certificates, 1906-1910" database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 April 2018), entry for Harry Hornberger, 24 April 1907; citing Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Birth no. 38751, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[8] Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 87071, Lizzie Hornberger, 4 September 1908, Lancaster County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 April 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[9] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG7M-S69 : accessed 13 April 2018), Della Hornberger in household of Joseph C Jenkins, Lititz, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 105, sheet 3A, family 58, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1355; FHL microfilm 1,375,368.


[10] "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXMT-SZM : accessed 13 April 2018), Della Hornbirge [Hornberger], Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 1798, sheet 16A, line 9, family , NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1646; FHL microfilm 1,821,646.


[11] “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 April 2018), Monroe Cooper Hornberger, serial no. 3125, order no. 2540, Draft Board No. 2, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, NARA microfilm publication M1509; Family History Library Roll No. 1893479.


[12] Karen Keehan Odendahl, granddaughter of Della (Hornberger) Stackhouse, (e-mail address for private use), to Kristin R. Wenger, e-mail, 28 January 2018; Monroe C. Hornberger File, Wenger Research Files; privately held by Wenger, (e-mail address for private use), 12 Southview Lane, Lititz, Pennsylvania.


[13] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG6X-YK9 : accessed 13 April 2018), William Hornberger, age 8, Mamie Hornberger, age 6, Lancaster Ward 7, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 79, sheet 8A, family , NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1354; FHL microfilm 1,375,367.


[14] "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVGX-1Y16 : 13 December 2015), William Hornberger, 1968; Burial, Manheim, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Chiques Church of the Brethren Cemetery; citing record ID 116280664, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com, gravestone photo with wedding date by Bruce Speck.


[15] "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFYH-K82 : accessed 13 April 2018), William Hornberger in household of Ephraim O Geib, Rapho, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 122, sheet 5A, line 36, family 98, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1584; FHL microfilm 1,821,584.


[16] "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHQH-W66 : accessed 13 April 2018), William F Hornberger, Rapho, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 108, sheet 9B, line 55, family 194, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2059; FHL microfilm 2,341,793. Also, "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQDD-7TQ : accessed 13 April 2018), William Hornberger, Rapho Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 36-138, sheet 9A, line 28, family 151, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3534. For seventh child, see “William F. Hornberger, Jr.” obituary, Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania), 5 November 2005.


[17] Patrick Dimmerling, “From Almshouse to Detention Center: A Brief Historical Survey of Institutions and Organizations for the Care of Dependent and Delinquent Children in Lancaster County,” Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (https://co.lancaster.pa.us/DocumentCenter/View/511 : accessed 13 April 2018), page 5.


[18] “Two Sons and Father Reunited, Daughter is Still Missing,” Shamokin News Dispatch (Shamokin, Pennsylvania), 17 April 1930, page 8; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 30 December 2016).


[19] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG7M-WP9 : accessed 13 April 2018), Harry and Elmer Hornberger in household of Kathrine Kline, Manor, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 114, sheet 2B, family 47, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1355; FHL microfilm 1,375,368.


[20] "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4T4-53W : accessed 13 April 2018), Harry Hornberger in household of Nathaneil [Nathaniel] P Shuster, Alexandria, Hunterdon, New Jersey, United States; citing ED 1, sheet 1B, line 89, family 23, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1051; FHL microfilm 1,821,051. For Elmer, see "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4XZ-NQ3 : accessed 13 April 2018), Elmer Hornberger in household of William T Rittenhouse, Kingwood, Hunterdon, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 19, sheet 12A, line 3, family 270, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1361; FHL microfilm 2,341,096.


[21] "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VMG6-766 : 20 May 2014), Harry Shuster, Aug 1974; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).


[22] "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG79-1HB : accessed 2 April 2018), Monroe Hornberger in household of Martin C Hornberger, Warwick, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 147, sheet 7A, family 143, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1355; FHL microfilm 1,375,368.


[23] "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXSQ-Y21 : accessed 2 April 2018), Monroe Hornberger in household of Harvey Shoemaker, Lititz Ward 1, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 90, sheet 3B, line 76, family 74, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1583; FHL microfilm 1,821,583.


[24] "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M33N-2M5 : accessed 13 April 2018), Lizzie M Sturgis in household of Walter E Sturgis, Lititz borough, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 79, sheet 8B, family 195, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,424.


[25] “Our History,” Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (http://www.juliussturgis.com/ourhistory.html : accessed 13 April 2018).


[26] “Obituary: Walter E. Sturgis,” The Lititz Record (Lititz, Pennsylvania), 18 July 1929, p. 1, col. 3; digital image, Power Library: Pennsylvania’s Electronic Library (http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/slchs-lnp1/id/19457/rec/1 : accessed 13 April 2018). Also, "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHQW-JXC : accessed 2 April 2018), Monroe Hornberger, Lititz, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 83, sheet 14B, line 77, family 358, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2058; FHL microfilm 2,341,792.


[27] Lititz Historical Foundation (http://lititzhistoricalfoundation.com/index.html : accessed 13 April 2018).


[28] “Lititz Man Reunited With Sons He Had Not Seen for 21 Years,” The Lititz Record (Lititz, Pennsylvania), page 1, cols. 4-5; digital image, Power Library: Pennsylvania’s Electronic Library (http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/slchs-lnp1/id/19796/rec/1: accessed 13 April 2018).


[29] “Shared Ancestor Hint” for Kristin Renee Hornberger and Karen Keehan Odendahl,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/dna/tests/CDB61E26-B19F-4C21-951F-7DC89C64E622/match/E0514701-80FC-4CA5-9118-B86A2246388C : accessed 13 April 2018).


[30] Karen Keehan Odendahl, granddaughter of Della (Hornberger) Stackhouse, (e-mail address for private use), to Kristin R. Wenger, e-mail, 1 February 2018; Monroe C. Hornberger File, Wenger Research Files; privately held by Wenger, (e-mail address for private use), 12 Southview Lane, Lititz, Pennsylvania.


[31] "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVL3-128B : 13 December 2015), Monroe C Hornberger, ; Burial, Lititz, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church Cemetery; citing record ID 86927854, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.


[32] Karen Keehan Odendahl, granddaughter of Della (Hornberger) Stackhouse, (e-mail address for private use), to Kristin R. Wenger, e-mail, 10 April 2018; Monroe C. Hornberger File, Wenger Research Files; privately held by Wenger, (e-mail address for private use), 12 Southview Lane, Lititz, Pennsylvania.

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