Monday, September 10, 2012

The Unwanted: William Henry Kimmer

In the early records of Stanly County and its parents, Anson and Montgomery, the Kimmer family can be seen listed in many forms, Kimmer, Kimra, Kimrey, Kimray, Kimbrough, Kimbro, Kimbra, Kimry. Eventually, different lines adopted different spellings, although they come from commons origins.

William Henry Kimmer was an unfortunate child born into one of these Stanly County families. I became intrigued with his story after reading about him in the Stanly County archives. The journals of Lilly Bassett Carter Hoffman have been kept for their historical memoires and significance. Lilly lost her father, Civil War hero, Captain Robert A. Carter, at an early age. She grew up afterwards in Albemarle, with her stepmother, in a boarding house and saw many changes in the town. One of the stories she gifted us with was that of her foster brother William Henry Kimmer.

The Family of Robert Allen Carter
Left to Right: Lola Carter;Wilton Kimmer ,foster son;Jesse Brady Carter; Lilly Bassett Carter; Florence Carter; Elizabeth Coble Carter, wife of RA Carter, seated; Mary Carter; Bess Carter; Ephraim Lee Carter.

Will Kimmer was born April 10, 1868. The area at the time was still sore and bleeding from the effects of the Civil War. Death was commonplace, crops had failed and people were starving. Many of the men who had returned from war were wounded or ill. It was not a welcome time for a child to come into the world.

Filthy and bedraggled Civil War Era Children

The story goes that in the autumn months of 1871, when Will was a little boy around 4 years old, he was a very neglected child on the verge of death. His mother had died and his father and stepmother did not want him. His stepmother hated him so badly and treated him so cruelly that his feet were severely frostbitten and he had to carried. He arrived in this manner by being made to stand outside barefoot and barely dressed in a thin gown for punishment, often as late as midnight, in the cold.

A boy of 17, identified as his uncle, Jim Kimmer, had pity on him and took him from house to house to try to find someone to take him in. He stopped by the home of Ervin Mauldin in the Tyson community, and while they could not take him in, the Mauldin girls, in their teens, had spun and woven some heavy material and made him a proper set of clothes from the material. They then took him to the home of Captain Carter and his young bride Betty Coble Carter, who took him in and raised him. The journals also mention the fact that Will grew up to work with the railroad and he also became a Mason, along with his foster father, Bob Carter.

The story really struck a chord with me on many levels. First, because the Mauldin family mentioned is in my family tree. My maternal grandmother was a Mauldin, very much so. Her mother was a Mauldin who had married a Mauldin. When he died, she married another Mauldin. I remember well my Great Grandmother Wincy Ann Mauldin Mauldin Mauldin and her second husband, Papa Jim.
Captain R. A. Carter during the Civil War

Civil War Era refugee family
Secondly, I wanted to know who this poor child was, because he originated in the Tyson community and nearly everyone who lived in the Tyson community during those days are tied into my family in some way.

First, I wanted to find him in the census with the Carters, and I did. Second, I wanted to attempt to find his biological family. I believe I have done that as well.

Paul Kimery
Age in 1870:53
Birth Year:abt 1817
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1870:Tyson, Stanly, North Carolina
Post Office:Albemarle
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
Paul Kimery53
Rebecca Kimery48
Margaret Kimery22
Benjamin Kimery21
Matilda Kimery11
James Kimery17
Rebecca Kimery8
Julia Kimery4
William Kimery1
George Kimery20
Mary Kimery7
In 1870, William Kimrey was living with what turns out to be his grandparents, Paul and Rebecca. Listed here as Paul and Rebecca 'Kimrey', most and more accurate records have them listed as Paul Nicholas Kimmer and Rebecca Minerva Mauldin Kimmer. There is that Mauldin name again. The Mauldin family who made Will a suit of clothes were relatives. By all accounts and in all family trees, Julia Ann Kimmer was the last child of Paul and Rebecca Kimmer. She is shown as 4 years old in 1870. Also, at age 48, it would be highly unlikely that Rebecca would have been the mother of an infant. It was not uncommon in those days for  women to have grandchildren as old, or nearly as old as their youngest children. Also, the 20 year old George and 7 year old Mary at the end of the list were not children of Paul and Rebecca, but other relatives in the household.
Also note 17 year old James in the list. This would be the compassionate young Uncle Jim.
Living right next door to Paul and Rebecca in the 1870 census, is their son, Henry Pinkney Kimmer.
Name:Henry Kimery
[Henry Kimmer] 
Age in 1870:20
Birth Year:abt 1850
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1870:Tyson, Stanly, North Carolina
Post Office:Albemarle
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
Henry Kimery20
Mary Kimery20
John Kimery7
Lucinda Kimery1/12

I believe Henry Pinkney Kimmer to be the father of  William Henry Kimmer. All evidence is circumstantial, but first of all, the only other brother of Jim Kimmer who was old enough to be the father of Will was Ben Kimmer. Ben is shown living with his parents in 1870 and did not marry until much latter. Plus the circumstances of the story match with Henry's.

The Mary shown in the 1870 census turns out to be Mary Magdalene Treece. She was the second wife of Henry P Kimmer. The ages in this census transcription were also inaccurate. The actual birthdates for Henry Pinkney Kimmer and Mary Magdalene Treece Kimmer were Dec 29, 1849 for him and Nov. 8, 1838 for her. She was considerably older, than Henry, and I believe, a widow. The John listed above at 7 years old was John Brattain Kimmer. Henry was not old enough to be his father. According to my research, Mary came into the marriage with three children, John was the oldest, with Mary having been born in 1863 and Julia in 1866. I believe her to have been the widow of a Brattain. I do not know where her daughters were living during this census. Shown is the newborn Malinda Lucinda Kimmer, the first child together of Henry and Mary.
Henry H. Kimmer
Spouse:Mary Stiller
Spouse Gender:Female
Marriage Date:1 Apr 1863
Marriage County:Rowan
Marriage State:North Carolina
Source:Record of this marriage may be found at the Family
The first wife of Henry was Mary Stiller. They were married in Rowan County and both very young. Mary probably died very soon after the birth of Will Kimmer.

Paul Nicholas Kimmer would die soon after the census was taken, in November of  1870, Rebecca would follow him the next year, in 1871. Also, in 1871, the other older brother of Jim Kimmer, Ben, would marry Sarah Ramsey, daughter of James and Beedy Ramsey on November 10, 1870, the same month as his father's death. Maybe at that time he inherited part of the homestead and acreage. The kind, young Uncle Jim would not marry until March 24, 1874, at the age of 22, he would take Nancy Hinson, daughter of Gooden and Betsey Hinson as his bride. Ben would soon migrate to Arkansas, as many area families did during the era, while Jim would live and die in Stanly County, the place of his birth.

Paul Nicholas Kimmer was descended from three generations of Henry Kimmers, beginning with Heinrich Kimbrough who was born in 1725 and lived in Orange County, North Carolina. His son Henry II was born in Orange County, in 1755 and Henry III would be born in 1775 and migrate to the then Montgomery County area where Paul was born in 1818. Upon his death in 1870 and his wifes in 1871, little William Henry Kimmer, who had been taken in by his grandparents had been left with no where to go except back to his father and stepmother, who did not want him, until his sympathetic young uncle took action.

In 1880, we find young Will in the home of the the kind Carter family, the foster family who took him in.

Willie Kimmer
Birth Year:abt 1871
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Monroe, Union, North Carolina
Marital Status:Single
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Neighbors:View others on page
Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane:
Household Members:
Robert Carter45
Sarah E. Carter22
Ephraim Carter8
Florence Carter6
Willie Kimmer9
His age had been underestimated a few years in this census, he should have been about 11 or 12. Perhaps his ill treatment early in life had stunted his growth. He is listed as being a 'bound boy' and had probably been taken to court at the bequests of Captain Carter and legally bound to him until 21. Also recorded was the fact that Will had attended school during the previous year, which meant the Carters were ensuring he obtained an education. They had moved south, to Monroe, in Union County, by this time and Monroe was a sizeable town by then.

The loss of the 1890 census puts a big jump of 20 years between 1880 and 1900, but we know that Will was in Texas and enjoying his career with the railroad by 1894.
William H. Kimmer
Year:1894, 1895
Business Name:Southern Pacific Ry.
Location 2:boards Mrs. Sarah Frensz
He was still living and working out of Houston by 1900, living with a family as a boarder. He gave his birth month and year as May of 1871. This must have been when he felt his life begin.
William H Kimmer
[William H Kluesner] 
Birth Date:May 1871
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1900:Houston Ward 5, Harris, Texas
Relation to Head of House:Lodger
Marital Status:Single
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Occupation:View on Image
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Thomas V Goss69
Ernest G Siadous21
Augustus Evans25
William H Kimmer29

Will would soon find love in the form of a young lady from Taylor County, Texas by the colorful name of Texas Aurora Gillespie. Texie, as she was obviously called, was a native born Texan born on Christmas Day, 1874 to Thomas Lovelace Gillespie and wife Martha Marie Lindley Gillespie. Her father was from Alabama and her mother from Mississippi. Texas was a great state at that time, for bringing people from all over and different walks of life together.

Will and Texie were married on April 23, 1903 in Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas. She was 28 and he was 32. This was fairly late in age for first marriages in that time and place. Texie would have been considered an old maid by then. As these larger cities in Texas were bustling and growing and full of industry and activity at the time, she may have been a lady with a career. Will was still working for the railroad, because the next census in 1910, lists him still as a fireman and an employee of the railroad. He had been busy traveling. Miss Gillespie may have been an employee of the railway as well, perhaps a ticket agent, or a secretary.

By 1910 the first 3 of their 4 children would be born. The family had relocated by then to Lake Charles, Louisiana. All four of the children were born while the family was living in Lousiana.
Wm H Kenimer
[Wm H Kruimer] 
Age in 1910:41
Birth Year:1869
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1910:Lake Charles Ward 2, Calcasieu, Louisiana
Relation to Head of House:Head
[Self (Head)
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Texie Kenimer
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Wm H Kenimer41
Texie Kenimer35
Willie Kenimer5
Lindley Kenimer3
W H Kenimer3/12

By the 1920 Census, they had returned to Texas, where Will and Texie would retire. In 1920, they are in Cherokee County with all four children. Will and Texie had two boys and two girls. Will would honor the Carter family in naming his children and Texie honored her family as well.

William Kimmer
Birth Year:abt 1869
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1920:Justice Precinct 3, Cherokee, Texas
Relation to Head of House:Head
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Texie Kimmer
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Home Owned:Rent
Able to Read:Yes
Able to Write:Yes
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
William Kimmer51
Texie Kimmer45
Willie Kimmer15
Lindley Kimmer13
Wilton Kimmer9
Elizabeth Kimmer7
Willye Aurora Kimmer would be born in 1905. She was named for her father with her first name Willye and her mother with her middle name Aurora. Lindley Carter, the oldest son came along in 1907, named for his maternal grandmother's maiden name and his middle name Carter for the Carter family. The third child was a son, Wilton Hanley Kimmer, and the last born was a girl Elizabeth Estelle Kimmer, named for Elizabeth Coble Carter.
William H Kimmer
Birth Year:abt 1875
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1930:Jacksonville, Cherokee, Texas
View Map
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Head
Spouse's Name:Texie A Kimmer
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina


Military Service:

Rent/home value:

Age at first marriage:

Parents' birthplace:
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
William H Kimmer55
Texie A Kimmer55
Lindley C Kimmer23
Wilton H Kimmer20
Elizabeth E Kimmer18

By 1930, the family was still living in Jacksonville, Cherokee County, TX and oldest daughter Willlye had already spread her wings and flew the nest. She had moved to Seminole, Oklahoma and was boarding with a family and a number of other boarders. I believe she was in school at this time.

The 1930 city directory was likely assembled after the census was taken. It shows Will working as an engineer, Texie in the home, Lindley working as a bookeeper at Jacksonville Drug Company and Elizabeth as a student at Jacksonville College. The directory does not show Wilton. I believe he had left for college.
Wm H Kimmer
Residence Year:1930
Residence Place:Ballinger, Texas
Occupation:Eng Hill
Spouse:Texie Kimmer 
Publication Title:Ballinger, Texas, City Directory, 1930

View original 

William Henry Kimmer would die on November 12, 1933. He was 65 years old. It is recorded that he died in Pedigo Settlement, Texas, which is 153 miles northwest of his home. He was probably still a railroad engineer as he was 3 years earlier and may have died on the job. Will was buried in the Magnolia Cemetary in Woodville, Tyler County, Texas. Texie would join him, but not until about 20 years later.

William H. KimmerWill's job with the railroad afford his children a very middle class existence and happy lives after his death. They would all marry, have a child or two, and went off into different directions, but records show they were always very close to each other and visited often.

The oldest, Willye Aurora Kimmer married Floyd Reuben Hair, born 1905 in Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
By 1940, they had welcomed their son, Floyd Lynn Hair. A daughter Betty Lea would soon follow.
Willye A Hair
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1906
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Wife
Home in 1940:Seminole, Seminole, Oklahoma
View Map
Street:Ideal & Lewis Avenue
Inferred Residence in 1935:Seminole, Seminole, Oklahoma
Residence in 1935:Seminole, Seminole, Oklahoma
Sheet Number:3A
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Floyd R Hair34
Willye A Hair34
Floyd Lynn Hair0
Buell Jack Hair22
The family would eventually move to Beaumont, Texas and live there during the growth era of the fifties. A 1959 City Directory of Beaumont would show Floyd as an Operator for the Gulf Refrigerator Company and  son Floyd Lynn Hair as a student. Floyd Reuben Hair was the son of Eldridge Hair, born in Arkansas and wife Emma Brown, born in Ozark, Missouri, a squarely Midwestern family with origins in Virginia and Kentucky a generation beyond them. Floyd R. Hair died in 1960 and would be buried at the Magnolia cemetary in Woodville, Tyler County, Texas with his inlaws.
Floyd R Hair
Residence Year:1959
Street Address:4155 Avenue A
Residence Place:Beaumont, Texas
Spouse:Willye Hair 
Publication Title:Beaumont, Texas, City Directory, 1959

1940 would find the widow, Texie, Mrs. W. H. Kimmer, living in Dallas Texas with two of her children, now adults, Lindley and Elizabeth. A boarder, Ann Decker, is living with them and is listed as having lived in Seminole, OK in 1935, the home of Willye and Floyd, so she might have been related to them. It also states that the Kimmers had been living in Dallas in 1935, meaning they had relocated there shortly after Will's death.
W H Kimmer
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1875
Marital Status:Widowed
Relation to Head of House:Head
Home in 1940:Dallas, Dallas, Texas
View Map
House Number:6034
Inferred Residence in 1935:Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Residence in 1935:Same Place
Sheet Number:14B
Number of Household in Order of Visitation:315
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
W H Kimmer65
L C Kimmer32
Elizabeth Kimmer27
Ann Decker20

In the meantime, Wilton Hendley has taken his deeply Southern roots and relocated to New Jersey. He lives in New Brunswick and city directories list him first as a lerk and later as a Store Manager. He must have changed stores, because at one point, he starts over as a clerk and works his way up to Store Manager again. He moves to Hampton, NJ, then to Washington, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. The 1940 census, taken in April, has him listed as a boarder and single, but he won't be for long.
Wilton H Kimmer
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1910
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Lodger
Home in 1940:Highland Park, Middlesex, New Jersey
View Map
House Number:120
Inferred Residence in 1935:Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Residence in 1935:Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sheet Number:61A
Number of Household in Order of Visitation:192
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Chas A Dickhaut46
Agnes L Dickhaut36
Wilton H Kimmer30
On October 27, 1940, Wilton H. Kimmer marries Irene Ethel Kiss, a Jersey girl, first generation American, whose parents Alexander and Mary were born in Hungary. They too, will have the American dream and two children, a boy and a girl, Wilton H. Kimmer, Jr.  in 1943and Beatrice, in 1948. Wilton, during his 40's, changes careers and becomes a Science teacher, and becomes a member of the Board of Education.
 His son Wilton, Jr. eventually follows in his father's footsteps. The New Jersey Kimmers are mentioned often in the Texas newspapers visiting the relatives still there and attending social functions.

Lindley Carter Kimmer, born September 12, 1907. In the 1938 City Directory of Dallas, Lindley is living at home with his mother and younger sister. He is working as a bookeeper while his sister Elizabeth is an office manager with a Hotel Organized Credit, Inc. All that changes soon as Linley meets a Texas girl, Mary Frances McEachen with deeply Southern roots, at a time her father Hector, who was born in Montgomery, Alabama, is even living in Richmond County, North Carolina, very close to where Will Kimmer was born. His family was from North Carolina and her mother's family was from Paducah, Kentucky.
Change will happen rapidly for Lindley. In April of 1940, he is living with his mother and sister at age 32. At age 33, he marries Mary Frances McEarchen in a June wedding on the 17th in 1941. 1942 finds the newlyweds living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They will remain in Harrisburg through most of the 40's. Like his brother Wilton and sister Willye, Lindley will have one son and one daughter. Lindley Kimmer, Jr. will be born on October 26, 1945 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lindley begins in Harrisburg as a salesman. Later, he is listed as Technical Field Repair Rep. In 1949, the young family relocates to Des Moines, Iowa and daughter Mary Katheryn Kimmer, known as Kay, is born there on October 25, 1949. I'm sure the October siblings celebrated many birthdays together. The Lindley Kimmers' stay in Des Moines through the 50's, where Lindley works in factory repair for Johnson and Johnson, but by the 60's, they have returned to Texas and are living in Dallas, where the kids go to high school.

Another tragedy will hit the family on January 7, 1967, when Will Kimmer's bride, Texie joins him in the Magnolia Cemetary in Woodville.

Lindley and family will remain in Texas, where son Lindley, Jr. will marry an Alabama girl, Jackie Brooks, in April of 1972. But one member of the clan never left Texas.

Baby daughter, Elizabeth Estelle Kimmer, becomes the beautiful bride of a WWII veteran, Lt. Robert Melvin Gengnagel in September of 1943. Lt. Gengnagel was born in Missouri to a Midwestern family with freshly German roots. He was in Des Moines, Iowa at the age of 4 and spent his formative years in Nebraska, finally reaching Dallas while still in his teens and graduating high school there. He attended college in the early 30's at Stanford University at Palo Alto, California and joined the service with a four year degree.

Robert M Gengnagel
Birth Year:1911
Race:White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country:Missouri
State of Residence:Texas
County or City:Dallas
Enlistment Date:17 Oct 1942
Enlistment State:Texas
Enlistment City:Dallas
Branch:Air Corps
Branch Code:Air Corps
Grade Code:Private
Term of Enlistment:Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component:Army of the United States - includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source:Civil Life
Education:4 years of college
Civil Occupation:Managers and officials, n.e.c.
Marital Status:Single, without dependents
Immediately after the wedding, the Gengnagels are found in Florida, in 1943, but return to Dallas, soon afterward. It could have been that he was stationed there.

Elizabeth, like her siblings, will have two children, but she has two sons: Ronald Melvin is born on July 18,1946 and  Alfred, the youngest grandchild, is born August 18, 1950. Alfred will move to Los Angeles, California and on November 16, 1984, marry a Japanese girl, Janet A Yashikawa. The couple relocates to Mukilteo, Washingon State and have two daughters, Michelle and Adrianne. Ron Gengnagel was the first of Will's grandchildren to pass away. He remained in Dallas, Texas and worked as a librarian at the University.

Of Will's children, Linley will be the first to pass away on April 1, 1983 in Dallas. Both Wilton and Willye will pass 3 years later, in 1986. Willye, first in March, in Birmingham, Alabama where her son lived. And then Wilton in December in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Elizabeth, the last born, is also the last to leave this world, in January of 1999. All of Will and Texie's children gone before the new century began.

For a little boy born in 1868, who nearly died, his feet so frostbitten he could not walk for 3 months, William Henry Kimmer made a place for himself in this world, and a good life for his family. All due to the kind heart of a Civil War Captain, the first in Stanly county to sign up, Captain Robert Allen Carter.

RON GENGNAGEL   1946 - 2007
RON GENGNAGEL, age 60, a lifelong resident of Dallas, Texas, died Friday, March 9, 2007 at his home. Born July 18, 1946 in Dallas to Robert M. Gengnagel and Elizabeth Kimmer Gengnagel, he was a librarian at SMU and a member of the University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. Preceded in death by his parents, he is survived by a brother, Alfred Gengnagel and his wife Janet; two nieces, Michelle Gengnagel and Adrienne Gengnagel, all of Mukilteo, Washington. Memorial Service 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at Restland Memorial Park’s Abby Chapel in Dallas. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions be made to AIDS Interfaith Network, 501 N. Stemmons, Suite 200, Dallas, TX 75207.

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