The Challenging Mr. Fitch

The designated theme for this, week 2 of Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors blog post prompts for 2019, is “challenge.”

The Challenging Fitch ancestor, my great-grandfather, has brought so many spine-tingling responses, whenever I found some unexpected trace of him popping up in my research.

None of the old-timers seemed to know much about him. My great-grandmother was married to him (very briefly) in 1896. Their son, my grandpa, was born in 1900. Historical records prove they were married at the time of my grandpa’s birth, and then later divorced, but he took his mother’s surname the rest of his life.

Wonder why she went to such great lengths to keep even the whisper of the name Fitch away?

great grandmother Nina, wife of Fitch for a brief moment

Gradually I began finding snippets of information about him, or at least, someone whose name was similar to his. The biggest treasure trove of hints came from a My Heritage newspaper vault. Apparently Fitch had moved to a tiny town in Indiana which had a nosy gossip columnist, and a reporter who noted every court action from the minuscule to the mighty. From this source, I learned a lot about his marriages, job, family members, what he did on the weekends, and all kinds of events either humdrum or tragic.

He worked at a dairy plant in Chicago, and apparently serviced a sales or maintenance route to several cities in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. At one point, according to the newspaper, the plant where he worked closed, and he could have chosen to move and work at a similar plant in Wisconsin, but didn’t. Around that time, he petitioned the court to have the time and place of his birth determined.

For someone supposedly born in 1875, the child of a German immigrant and an American mother, he did not seem to be a stable representative of that demographic, in my mind . He was married to at least six different women. There were some shady newspaper accounts, either about him or someone with his same name.

The Fitches, overall, were a challenge to find, and I still cannot find Great-grandpa Fitch’s mother’s family where they are supposedly from in Erie, New York.

From a member profile in My Heritage, and from some DNA matches in Ancestry, I found some likely relatives who were descended from Voitzsch ancestors in Prussia. The original US immigrants of this line were supposedly buried in a graveyard in Erie County, New York, according to a source. I found the roster of burials for that cemetery, and one name very remotely like Fitch or Voitzsch came up: Gaubeloupe Freitztsch Folilztson (compared to the name listed on historical records Johann Gottlob Fitch or Voitzsch) and wife were buried there, and their markers possessed the only possible dates that could have worked out to be the immigrants. Not exactly proof positive, but some DNA matches to me have these ancestors listed on their pedigrees, so it may be a good tree to bark up!

Recently I was contacted by someone whose ancestor bought the farm where Nina lived at the time of her death. Having already posted several salient newspaper articles about the life and times of Nina and her subsequent husbands, he says he may have a photo somewhere of the elusive Mr. Fitch!

This is the 2nd of #52Ancestors.

Please comment, if you feel so inclined!