I recently had a request for more information on Josiah Climenhegg—a little known member of the Climenhegg clan—and his offspring. As such I thought this request to be a good opportunity to convey here what I know about this man and his family. –updated 18 Apr 2014.
Josiah,or Joseph, Climenhegg, as he was known, was most likely a son of Nathaniel Climenhegg and Christeannah “Christina” Shisler. It is estimated that he was born between 1853 and 1860 possibly in Pennsylvania and died between 1896 and 1900—no birth or death records have been found at the time of this writing. In 1892, a J. Climenhage is found as a tenant on Lot 20, Concession D in the Ridgeway area of old Bertie Township close to Nathaniel Climenhage. In 1895, Josiah was living on Lot 6, Concession G in Ridgeway close to half-brothers Frank and Jerome.He was an engineer by trade and an active volunteer of the 44th Lincoln and Welland Regiment.
Josiah was married about 1889 to Hannah Eliza Huffman. Hannah was born December 1, 1859 to Michael Huffman and Mary Johnston. She was previously married about 1873 to Jacob Leander Teal (1843-1887) and had five known children by that union which included William Edmund (1874), Mary Etta (1877), Ida Vanetta (1879), Harry Leander (1882), and Tina Lavina (1884).
The marriage between Josiah and Hannah produced three known children—the first being William N. Climenhegg, born July 20th 1890 and died April 27th 1893. He is buried in the Zion Cemetery on Garrison road in Ridgeway—no records of this child have been found other than his grave marker. To this union were also born two daughters: Nellie M. Climenhegg, and Hazel L. Climenhegg—both in Ridgeway, Ontario.
Hannah and her daughters
Josiah died in his early to late 40s—sometime between 1896 and 1900 as Hannah is found in the 1901 Canadian Census, widowed, living in Bertie Township with her two daughters, Nellie and Hazel, and her two sons from her first marriage. She was running a boarding house at the time. By 1908 she was living in Buffalo, New York and is listed in the Buffalo City directory as:
“Climenhegg Hannah wid Josiah r 148 Seneca.”
In the 1909 Buffalo City directory she is found living at the same address with her two daughters. It is assumed that Hannah died shortly thereafter as she does not appear in the 1910 Buffalo City directory, or in any of the census records that follow. Her daughters were both married about 1909 or 1910.
Nellie M. Climenhegg
Nellie Climenhegg was born October 20th 1892 in Ridgeway, Bertie Township, Welland County, Ontario. In 1901 she was living with her widowed mother, sister Hazel, and her two half brothers—William and Harry Teal—in Bertie Township. In 1909 Nellie Climenhegg was living with her mother and sister at 148 Seneca street in Buffalo, New York, and was employed as a box maker. In the 1910 Buffalo City directory she is found living at the same address, by herself, and employed as an inspector. In 1909/1910 Nellie married Charles Augustus Kohler. Charles, born September 19th, 1879 in Tonawanda New York, was the son of Christian Kohler and Margarethe Gehring. Nellie and Charles appear in the 1915 Buffalo City directory where he is working as a carpenter and she as a housekeeper. In 1918 Charles was working as a longshoreman, and the couple were residing at 175 Broad Street in Buffalo.
According to census records Nellie immigrated to the United States in 1905, and became a naturalized US citizen by marriage in 1909/1910–Nellie being 18 years of age and Charles 31. In 1928, the couple were living at 387 Adam Street in Tonawanda and Charles was employed as a carpenter. In the 1930 United States Federal Census Charles was working as a labourer in a paper mill, while in 1940 Charles was working as a building contractor. By 1940 the couple were residing at 312 Broad Street. It is interesting to note that the 1940 census states Nellie’s highest grade completed as the 2nd grade, while Charles’ highest grade completed was the 3rd grade. No children from this union. In 1983 Nellie celebrated her 90th birthday which was noted in the Tonawanda News:
“Nellie Kohler will celebrate her 90th birthday Thursday. Mrs. Kohler, wife of the late Charles Kohler, life-long resident of Tonawanda, came from Fort Erie, Ont., in 1915. She has made her home in Tonawanda since that time. Mrs. Kohler has several nieces and nephews in the area. Her philosophy on life has been one of hard work and looking ahead.”
Charles Kohler died in 1972, while Nellie passed away some 12 years later:
“Charles A. Kohler, 92, of 312 Broad Street, died Saturday (Jan. 29, 1972) at DeGraff Memorial Hospital. A lifelong resident of this city he was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Church and the Holy Names Society. He was formerly employed by the Richardson Boat Co., retiring in 1947. He is survived by his wife, the former Nellie Climenhegg, and several nieces and nephews. Prayers will be said at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Roth Funeral Home, followed by a Mass of the Resurrection at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in Elmlawn Cemetery.”
“Nellie M. Kohler, 90, of Tonawanda, Wednesday (May 23, 1984) after a long illness. A resident of Tonawanda for more than 60 years, she was the Wife of the late Charles Kohler who died in 1972. She is survived by her nieces, Mrs. Gladys McCleary of Newark Dela., Mrs. Hazel Benner, Mrs. Lillian Stanley, both of Buffalo, Mrs. Lucy Riexinger of Tonawanda and many other nieces and nephews. Friends may call from 7-9 p.m. Thursday and 2-4 and 7-9 p m Friday at the Hamp Funeral Home, Inc. Adam and Seymour Sts., Tonawanda. Friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial at 9 a.m. Saturday at St Francis of Assisi Church. Interment at Elmlawn Cemetery.”
Hazel L. Climenhegg
Hazel Climenhegg was born in Ridgeway, Ontario April 16th 1895 and died December 13th, 1965 at DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Tonawanda, Erie County, New York after a brief illness. She first appears in the 1901 Canadian census with her mother, sister, and two half brothers living in Bertie Township—likely Ridgeway. In the 1909 Buffalo City directory she is found living with her mother and sister, and working as a waitress. Around 1910, Hazel was married to George Nelson Bush. George, the son of Nelson Bush and Mary Ann Brooker, was born March 22nd 1881 at Dunnville, Haldimand County, Ontario. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1882. In 1918 Hazel, George, and their daughter Gladys were living at 110 Clinton Street in Buffalo—George was working as a bartender at the Imperial Hotel.
It is assumed that the couple divorced in 1920, or that George died shortly thereafter as the 1920 US Census, which included Hazel, George, and Gladys was taken on January 8th, though later that year Hazel was remarried to Charles Miller. At the time of their marriage Charles was living in Detroit and working as a clerk. It is unclear how they met but the couple were wed in Fort Erie, Ontario, June 10th, 1920 at the Church of England. Charles, the son of John Miller and Mary Knoll, was born in August of 1887 at Shawano, Wisconsin, and died December 31st, 1929. In the 1930 US Federal Census Hazel is listed as widowed. At this time Hazel was living at 250 Smith Street in Buffalo where she boarded out some rooms and worked as a store clerk at a grocery store. Interestingly, in the 1930 census she states that she immigrated to the US in 1898 which may indicate that her father moved the family to Buffalo in 1898 and died shortly thereafter–but this is purely speculation.
Hazel married a third time on December 22nd 1938 at Erie County, Pennsylvania to Mark B. Starks, son of Fred Starks and Adell Reed. Mark was born June 10th, 1889 at Little Valley, Cattaraugus County, New York, and died January 19th, 1958 at Tonawanda, New York. He worked as an electrician. Mark had been married previously, and divorced, to Blanche L. Howden of Cattaraugus County, New York. In 1940 Hazel was working as a floor lady and the couple lived, or were staying with, daughter Gladys and her family at 928 West Avenue in Buffalo..
Mark died in 1958, and Hazel followed seven years later:
“Mark B. Starks, Jan. 19, 1958, husband of Hazel L. Starks; father of Mark Jr., and Harlo Hutchinson, Mrs. Gladys Kohler and Mrs. Cleo Miller, brother of Lee and Willis Starks, Mrs. Francis Frenz of Little Valley, N.Y., and Mrs. Katherine Percy of Salamanca, N.Y.; also survived by 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Funeral from the Funeral Home of John J. ray and Son, 615 Elmwood Ave., Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock. Friends are invited.”
“Hazel L. Starks, 70, of 312 Broad St., Tonawanda, died Monday (Dec. 13, 1965) at DeGraff Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. A native of Buffalo, she had been a resident of Tonawanda for the past 15 years. She was a member of the Erie County Democratic Club, Tonawanda Women’s Democratic Club, a charter member and delegate to the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. Survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Gladys McCleary of Tonawanda; a step-daughter, Mrs. Cleo Miller of East Aurora; two step-sons, Howard Starks and Harlo Hutchinson, both of Buffalo; a sister, Mrs. Charles Kohler of Tonawanda; a granddaughter, Mrs. Carol McCleary Eller of Wilmington, Del.; a grandson, Richard J. McCleary of Tonawanda, and several great-grandchildren. Friends may call from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at John O. Roth Funeral Home, Morgan and William Streets, Tonawanda, where services will be conducted by the Rev. Alexander Corti at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Burial in Elmlawn Cemetery.”
Gladys V. Bush
Gladys V. Bush was the daughter of Hazel L. Climenhegg and George Nelson Bush. She was born December 8th, 1910 at Buffalo, New York and died March 19th, 1992 at Newark, New Castle, Delaware. She was first married to George Ward McCleary who was born in 1908 at Buffalo, New York. Three children were born from this union. Gladys was widowed and then married a second time to John E. Koller. Gladys moved to Delaware a few years after her mother’s death. What follows is her obituary:
“A memorial service for Gladys McCleary Koller, 81, a former Buffalo resident, will be scheduled in Delaware. Born in Buffalo, Mrs. Koller died March 19, 1992, in her Newark, Del., home after a lengthy illness. She worked for more than 50 years in retail sales and at one time worked for the Sample stores. She also was a nanny. She was involved in Democratic activities and was a member of the Democratic Boosters during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She also was a volunteer in women’s Democratic circles in the Tonawanda area. Mrs. Koller was a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo. She left the area in 1968. In Newark, Mrs. Koller was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church. She was an avid traveler and enjoyed cooking and working with her children. She was the widow of George Ward McCleary and John E. Koller. Survivors include a son, Richard J. McCleary; a daughter, Carol J. Willis of Newark; six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.”