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19 February 2010

Kate's Story in the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal

In the Missouri State Genealogical Society Journal, Volume XXIX, No. 4, 2009, member Patricia Burrow chronicled the story of her ancestor, Kate Stuedle McCormack, who she discovered in 2007 when she obtained her grandmother's adoption papers.

Kate's Story is Patricia's "tribute to a hard-working family that serviced the westward migration of this great country." In it we meet Kate's father, Balthasar Stuedle, who built wagons for the families that made their way across the Santa Fe Trail and learn how Kate helped settle Oklahoma Territory and rear a family during the Great Depression.

Patricia consented to share some of the backstory of the document that was the key to unlocking her family mystery.
My grandmother was adopted. According to her children, she did not know about this until she was into her senior years. My aunt gave me a small scrap of paper that was supposed to be the link to the adoption but no one knew any details. The paper was from the Recorder's Office, Jackson County, Missouri, September 1902. It was pure gold. I wrote to the Recorder's office, sending a copy of the paper but got a reply that nothing was there. For four years I wrote to other offices and even the surrounding counties but never got a positive response. In June of 2007 we were visiting relatives in Arkansas, and made a detour to Independence, Missouri. I was determined to find SOMETHING. I marched into the Court house, showed the clerk a copy of my paper and within ten minutes had a copy of the adoption record from 105 years before. I believe that, because Missouri has closed adoptions, when I requested the information by mail, they saw that it was an adoption and dismissed the record's existence. Harder to do when I was standing there reading the microfilm with the clerk. Happiness was mine. He got so excited about it that he looked up the marriage info on my adopted great-grandparents and produced a beautiful copy of their license right there on the spot. It was a good day, about to get even better. I went to a local library and worked with the librarian to find the birth mother, Kate STUEDLE, and her family, in city directories and censuses. We were never able to find an actual birth record.
I have researched this family back to their emigration from Wittenberg, Germany, 1854. Balthasar STUEDLE married Christina Ann SCHWAB, also from Wittenberg, in 1870, Lafayette County, Missouri. These were my gg-grandparents. Using the internet, I met some wonderful people, some new cousins, and some of the most generous genealogists in the world – all willing to help. While writing the article for the Journal, I realized that I did not have Kate's final resting place. Somewhere there was a reference that she died in Cortez, Colorado. I knew that her son was buried there because I found his headstone on the internet. At 1:00 p.m. one sunny afternoon, I shot off an email to the address of the person who had photographed that headstone and asked if they knew if Kate was in the same cemetery. At 4 o'clock I got an email back that he, the photographer, had gone out to the cemetery, found her grave and took pictures of the headstone for me. Is that not a wonderful community?
I found the adoption record in June and was sitting in a genealogy class in September when someone new to the class began to introduce herself and tell who and where she was researching. My ears perked up when she said "SCHWAB" and gave their migration from Germany to Missouri and Kansas and then to Oklahoma. THOSE ARE MY SCHWABs!!! I would never have paid attention if I had not found that adoption record just 90 days before. Timing is everything. It turns out Betty Martinez is a third cousin! The lesson here is, never stop panning for gold. Betty followed up on many of her own leads and eventually handed me a photograph of my own g-grandmother, Kate, looking very much like her first child, the loving grandmother who held me on her lap, sang to me and fed me buttermilk biscuits that she baked in her old wood stove.

Kate Stuedel McCormack (1881-1963)

Photograph courtesy of Patricia Burrow.


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

What a wonderful success story! Never give up.

Marilyn Nelson said...

I'd very much like to connect with Patricia, as Balthazar and Christina (Schwab) Stuedle are my ggrandparents as well! Pls email me: [email protected]

Unknown said...

Hi Marilyn, great to meet a new cousin. Let's share our resources. - pb