Saturday, March 1, 2014

52 Ancestors- #7 John Dony Mapes

John Dony Mapes, Lover of Dogs

Having begun my stories with my grandmother Eva, and worked through her family- mother, brother Leslie and grandmother, it now seems fitting that I give attention to her father, John Dony Mapes. In looking at photos of John, I noticed a recurrent theme- he often was accompanied by a pet dog. He must have felt they were as much a part of his family as the people in his life.

John was born 12 April 1851 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the youngest child of  Stephen S. and Margaret (Bright) Mapes. John was about 2 years old when his family moved from Ohio to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where Stephen farmed until 1857, when they made the 112 mile trip up the Lake Michigan shoreline to Door County, settling in the town of Gibraltar.

John's First Marriage

The year 1880 was a Leap Year. On March 30th John, age 28, married "Spinster" Betsey Moore, age 47, in a civil ceremony witnessed by John's brother Calvin and his wife Harriet. Here is the newspaper notice from The Expositor Independent of 9 April 1880, page 4:

Betsey, who was 19 years older than John, died at the age of 61 on 13 February 1894 while visiting in Green Bay. According to her obituary, "Her husband, who was at home, went to Green Bay immediately on receipt of the sad intelligence." 

John and Josephine

The following November 28th, John, "a traveling man",  married Josephine Fittshur (Rockwell) at Forestville. The Door County Advocate added some personality to their December 15th report of the marriage under the Fish Creek section:

Marriage Record from Mapes Family Bible

Registration of Marriage
John's entry in his wife's autograph book

Two months later, the Door County Advocate reported under the Forestville section: 
"John Mapes, of Gibraltar, is selling fish to this vicinity. He is meeting with success in that line if his supply of fish which has been recently increased may be taken as a criterion of success."

On 10 September 1895, John and Josephine became parents to a son, Lesley Dony Mapes, and a daughter Eva Jane was born on 13 February 1900. 

John Mapes Family about 1903
John Mapes Family about 1912

The family lived in a cabin at Forestville, across the road from Josephine's mother Lydia Rockwell. John was associated with the Seventh Day Adventist religion. In November 1895 the Advocate reported: 

"Daily religious services are being held at the residence of John Mapes. The services are held at night and are conducted by a minister of the Seventh Day Adventist church. On Saturday evening at 7:30, the minister will deliver an address on the Church and State."

John must have been pretty handy with a gun, as reported by Door County's "Weekly Expositor Independent" on 9 Feb 1883: 

Besides the wildcat incident, another example of John's willingness to jump in and help others is what happened in March 1996, as reported in the Door County Democrat:

In about 1904 John moved his family up the peninsula to the community of Juddville to farm. They moved back south to the town of Sturgeon Bay in April of 1911. In January of 1912, it was reported under "Sawyer News in Brief": 

John Mapes has entered the employ of J.M. Ellenbecker as traveling saleman and he will have unlimited territory in the sale of the useful household articles manufactured at the Sawyer factory."

Tragedy struck the family in about 1912 when Lesley became seriously ill with Tuberculosis of the bone in his right hip, requiring the amputation of his leg. On 4 July 1913, the Door County Democrat reported:
 Lesley died two weeks later, and was buried at the Juddville cemetery, where John and Josephine would later join him. 

John continued his nomadic lifestyle, moving from place to place to find a way to provide for his family. Throughout the rest of his life, he and Josephine lived in various places in the southern and northern parts of the Door peninsula. They were living at Jacksonport next to their daughter Eva and Sanford Clark's family in 1930, in a little house built for them on the farm. John had gradually lost his eyesight, and fell one evening while trying to light a lantern, fracturing his left hip. He developed pneumonia and died two weeks later, 20 September 1930. 

John & Josephine Mapes

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