Yes, I know. It has definitely been a while. COVID-19 is all to blame. Can’t go anywhere, can’t get research done, can’t get records, or access to them. It has put a crimp in my work flow. But, I do try to plug away at it once in a while.
In fact, recently while going through my tree on my FamilySearch.org site, I kept seeing a picture of a Barry family that someone had posted about 4 months ago, I always ignored it. But this week I asked myself why was it here, and could this Barry family possibly be related to me? So, I actually did a little investigation into the matter. Come to find out one of my great Uncles is in this photo. One of my great Uncles I do not have a picture of, at all. This photo’s label was focused on the Barry family, which is actually no relation to me other than by marriage. And, the reason I didn’t understand why it kept showing up on my page.
William Cain was Gertrude Cain’s brother in fact he was the eldest son of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, born right after Gert. He married a woman named Lovina Philomena Barry in Oconto in 1902. William, his wife and family eventually moved out to Oregon and Washington state (a place a lot of other John and Cain cousins, aunts and uncles ended up).
What is weird about this discovery is before I decided to investigate the photograph I had found the entry shown below regarding this same Uncle’s marriage to Lovina.
I had to read this document over several times before I was sure it was the same William Cain, because some interesting information shows up in his marriage record. Such as, his mother is named as Catherine Lavallee. If the clerk filled out the form, then Catherine could have been misheard for Carrie, or the record was transcribed incorrectly into the index. But, even more interesting is the reference of his mother’s surname as Lavallee. This was his grandmother Jennie’s surname at the time she died in the 1870s. And Carrie and her sister Ida were Rosas not Lavelleys. So I can only imagine what stories Carrie was telling her children, or how even she didn’t really know what was true. There was already the story being told, and passed down by her children, that Carrie’s father had died during the Civil War. We know that was not true, and it was her mother who probably told her girls this when they moved to Wisconsin, without their father.
Anyway, the marriage record does not contain earth shattering news or anything, it is just interesting. And, another reason to not always trust official records as the purveyors of truth. Sometimes they are just plain wrong. This is also a good reason to see actual records and not indexed ones. I have no idea if the transcription is correct, but, I don’t really care enough to see the actual record in this case. He is only an uncle, and I, apparently, know more than he did about his own family history.
In this case it is the picture that is a true treasure, and I thank the person who uploaded it very, very much. William was a very handsome man. As were all the Cain children so far as I have seen.
Gertrude Cain, daughter of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, was born the 9th of August 1877 in Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin1. She is my great grandmother.
Her ancestors were all Irish on her father’s side, and a mix of German, Dutch, Scottish, and English (with a royal gateway ancestor thrown in) on her mother’s side.
Gertrude grew up in a large Catholic family of 8 children in Oconto. Her mother had actually had 10 children, according to census2 records, but her eldest sister Elizabeth died when Gert was 13 years old3, and her mother had another child that never showed up in census records.
I can speculate on her upbringing, as I will for most of my ancestors, but certain things will most likely be true. This we do know, Gertrude’s father was a hard working Irish Catholic man who had partially been raised by his grandparents. I am doubtful that he had much of a hand in the bringing up of his own children, but then that would be in line with the times. Carrie, her mother, was definitely Catholic and it is possible she became Catholic because of her husband (Carrie’s parents were Methodist). Gertrude did not practice catholicism when she left home. In fact this gossip bit appeared in the local paper on 1901:
September 26, 1901 c3 — Mrs. V. H. Johns visited relatives and friends in Gillett this week [also donated $1 to German Lutheran church building committee]
Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison, WHS micro PH 73-1888)
Gertrude went to school until the 8th grade and then she was done, (this we know because of an entry in the 19404 census which asks what the highest grade was that they had completed.) As her mother had all those kids to raise and she was now the eldest, Gertrude most likely had quite a hand in helping out around the house, and keeping everything in order. Getting a higher education was not on her agenda, and it doesn’t appear that her parents encouraged her to pursue any further education either. The family did not live on a farm, her father worked for the lumber mill as a pile driver on the river. She grew up a ‘City’ girl in what they called “French Town” in Oconto. (Land and census records appear to place their abode at 301 Smith Avenue by 1888, earlier her parents lived a few blocks further down the road on Smith, where there is now a gas station.)
Gertrude lived in this house until she was 20, at which time she had her own house to keep.
On Saturday August 28 1897 Gertrude tied the knot in a romantic wedding on a train. The groom was a local man, and the youngest son of an Oconto and Gillett pioneer couple. His name was Victor Hugo John. Gert had just turned 20 that month, Victor was a mere 5 years older.
Vic and Gert made their first home in Wabeno, Wisconsin where Vic had a job as a station agent for the C&NWR railroad.5 Today the trip from Oconto to Wabeno takes about an hour and a half. In 1897 it would have taken a bit longer. But at least you could take the trip by train because in 1897 the C&NWR railroad had opened up their new tracks and Wabeno was a new and bustling…well…new town created by the logging business.
They actually lived in the Town of Cavour7 for the first couple of years that Vic worked at the depot, which is just north of Wabeno. By 19058 they were living in Wabeno, according to the state census. The town newspaper always seemed to indicate that they were of Wabeno, when ever they were mentioned in the news (Cavour is never mentioned).
As a newly established town there were not many people living in the area, so I can see why Gert was always going to visit her family in Oconto, or her in-laws in Gillett. According to newspaper gossip every other week was a trip to visit family. Something she did even more in the fall of 1898, as she was pregnant with her first child, my grandfather.
Here’s the local gossip on the matter:
September 29, 1898 c5 — Mrs. V. H. Johns is visiting her parents at Oconto.
October 6, 1898 c4 — Station Agent Johns looks lonesome since his wife went visiting.
October 20, 1898 c4 — Station Agent Johns went to Oconto Tuesday evening to see his wife who is visiting with her parents at that place, returning on the special the following morning.
November 3, 1898 c4 — Born—To Mr. and Mrs. Victor Johns, on Saturday last a 9 1/2 lb. Bouncing baby boy, mother and child getting along nicely. Vic feels himself to be the happiest man in town.
November 17, 1898 c4 — Mrs. V. H. Johns and little son arrived home yesterday after an extended visit with her parents at Oconto.
On October 29 1898 Gertrude safely delivered a baby boy9. They named him Clarence Fredrick John (Fredrick was in honor of Victor’s father). They eventually had a total of 3 boys, adding Lincoln William in 1901, and Victor Hugo, jr. in 1903.
Over the next 8-10 years Gert occupied her time by visiting her family, or someone in the family visited with them. She joined the Ladies of the Macabees (an insurance organization for women created in 1892 by Bina West Miller).
March 27, 1902 c3 — Mrs. V. H. Johns was at Gillett the first of the week to join the Ladies of the Macabees[sp].
Helped out at the depot when Vic was too ill, kept the home and raised the boys.
The family continued in this vein until their first big adventure, which came for Gert, and the family, in May of 1908. It was a few weeks after Vic’s mother died that Gert packed up their family and all their belongings, for a big move out west to Wyoming.
It was a grand adventure — that was short lived. Less than a year later Gert was packing up their belongings again, as the family was heading back to Wisconsin, to stay. It was rumored by an older cousin that Gert was extremely homesick and wanted very much to come back to her family and friends.
While the first 11 or so years of their marriage the family had made their home in the area of Wabeno, and Victor supported the family as a railroad station agent, this changed when they got back to Wisconsin. Victor spent the next 4 or so years moving his wife and family around the state. Maybe it was a reflection of his own restlessness. According to the papers they were of: Clintonville in Jul of 1909, Odanah in Sep of 1909, Hackley in May of 1910, and Friendship in Jul of 1912.
Then another big change happened.
Victor quit his job as a station agent completely and went into banking. Maybe this is what he wanted all along, and he had been working his way to it. His first bank brought the family back to Wabeno in 1913, it was the Leona State Bank, where he was the cashier. And over the years he helped establish several banks across the state.
In 1916 they were living in Crandon while he worked for the Citizens State Bank of Crandon.
In 1919, just to be contrary, he ran for Sheriff, and won. What a boon for Gert, now she got to prepare meals for all the prisoners, along with take care of her own dwelling and family.
Vic served two terms as Sheriff of Forest County, after which he continued establishing and working in banks. On to Laona in 1922-1925. Gillett by 1926-1933. Wabeno by 1933-1947. These dates that I am using are very approximate, because I am using newspaper gossip to try and estimate their moves. It looks like it was sometime after 1947 that Vic and Gert finally settled down to retire. The place they picked was Gillett, Vic’s hometown. They were both now in their 60s.
Gert’s retirement years were spent attending Order of the Eastern Star meetings, playing bridge, visiting friends and relatives, and celebrating.
50th Wedding — Mr. and Mrs. Vic John of Oconto, formerly of Crandon and Wabeno, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Crandon last Thursday. They were married Aug., 28, 1897, in a railway coach, south of Wabeno, just within Oconto county, as there was no justice of the peace in Wabeno at the time. The nearest justice was in Oconto county.10
Gert had become a grandmother in 1921. Her eldest son Clarence had run off to Illinois to marry Ester Edwards, (so it is possible he has gotten her pregnant). They had a girl whom they named Gertrude Marie. This marriage didn’t last though, but Ester and her daughter stayed around the White Lake area and visited with Gert and Vic on occasion. (We know this because of newspaper gossip, boy that stuff comes in handy.)
Her other two sons never had any children, although Lincoln did marry in 1930 out in Wyoming. Clarence married for his second wife Myrtle Caroline Hamm, my grandmother. Together they had 3 children that lived to adulthood. So Gert had a total of 4 grandchildren to enjoy in her later years.
The stories I have heard about Gertrude were that she was very petite and full of fun. She liked to dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating with the kids, having a great time fooling the neighbors, as an adult. She enjoyed hunting and fishing, as did her husband and their friends. And while she might have had an adventurous spirit, she preferred to be around family to feel comfortable indulging in it.
A 2nd cousin told me that his cousins didn’t like having meals at her house because she told them if they didn’t finish, it would be there for the next one. Now I know where my dad got that little bit of wisdom.
Gertrude passed away in 1962 at the age of 84, six years after her husband.
Final Rites for Mrs. John Today
Mrs. Gertrude John, former Ocontoan, died suddenly Saturday evening at Baraboo.
Mrs. John was born in Oconto, the daughter of the late John and Carrie Cain. She was united in marriage to Victor John in 1887, in Carter, WI. He passed away in 1956. Mrs. John lived in Gillett the past nine years. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Gillett, and its Past Matron’s club; a past matron of the Grandon chapter, a member of the Gillett Methodist church and the women’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist church.
Survivors include two sons, L. W. John, Fresno and Victor John Jr. Saratoga, both of California; three brothers, Milton Cain, Oconto; William, Portland, Oregon; Harry, Milwaukee; a sister, Mrs. Frank (Mildred) Rouseau of Milwaukee; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A son Clarence died in 1954.
Final rites will be held this afternoon at 2 o’clock in the Gillett Methodist Church. The Rev. C. V. Dawson will officiate, with burial in Wanderer’s Rest cemetery. The Order of the Eastern Star, Gillett, will conduct services at the church. The Kuehl funeral home is in charge of arrangements.
Both Gert and Vic are buried in the Wanderer’s Rest Cemetery in Gillett, Wisconsin, along with the rest of the John family. Her parents are buried in Oconto’s Catholic cemetery.
——————– Sources: 1. Gertrude Cain, certificate of birth record page 37, Oconto County Register of Deeds, Oconto, Wisconsin.
2. 1900 Federal Census Oconto City, Oconto County, Wisconsin: Clara C., wife, white, female, Apr., 1858, 42, Married 26yrs., 10 children, 8 living, born: Mich, father: Mich, mother: Mich., read, write, speak english.
3. Oconto County Reporter, March 4, 1892 — Lizzie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Cain, died Thursday, Feb. 25, 1892, aged about 15 years.
The deceased had some time previous to her death eaten prune stones which lodged in her intestines and necessitated a surgical operation, which, however, proved unavailing, and after more than a week of suffering death ensued. Her burial took place Saturday from St Peter’s Roman Catholic church.
4. 1940 census, Crandon City, Forest County, Wisconsin details — Sheet No. 23 B, SD 8, ED 21-8, May 1, 1940 lines 73-74, household no. 60, rent, don’t live on a farm: John Gertrude, wife, female, white, 62, married, did not attend school or college, highest grade completed 8, born Wisconsin, 1935 lived in rural area in Forest County, Wisconsin.
5. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) — NOTE: Victor John is listed as station agent of the C &N.W.R. and postmaster in the earliest issue on the microfilm 9-22-1898.
Living in the big city can be a little more exciting than the little towns most of my ancestors lived in. As in the case of this robbery:
This is Dennis Cain, my great great Uncle who lived with his wife Mary Agnes in Rhode Island, (he worked in the fabric mills there his whole life). At the time of this incident he was living in East Greenwich.
I’m thinking he will be a little more careful about his boarders in the future.
My great great grandfather John Cain moved to Wisconsin when he was a young boy. He lived with his mother’s parents Winifred and Denis Conely in Chilton for a few years, but, by the time he was about 17 years old he was on his own, employed with a logging mill in Oconto.
He spent most of his life working as a river driver, also known as a “river pig,” one of the men who worked the cut logs down the river.
Then one day, while going about his job something unexpected happened.
Another recent scouring of Oconto newspapers brought this interesting tidbit to my attention just in time for mid-term elections:
So what was the Hayes and Wheeler Club and why was gramps John Cain a member?
From what little I have been able to find about this club, it looks like it was patriotic in nature and organized in many states across the country, for the purpose of “securing re-nomination and re- election of President Rutherford B. Hayes.”
John appears to have been republican in beliefs, and was enthusiastic enough for Hayes to be elected that he joined the club to help rouse the populace to vote for his favorite ticket.
Here is a small bit of biography on Hayes from his Wikipedia entry:
Hayes was a lawyer and staunch abolitionist who defended refugee slaves in court proceedings in the antebellum years.
He was nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency in 1876 and elected through the Compromise of 1877 that officially ended the Reconstruction Era by leaving the South to govern itself. In office he withdrew military troops from the South, ending Army support for Republican state governments in the South and the efforts of African-American freedmen to establish their families as free citizens. He promoted civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction.
John did not enlist in the Civil War. Having been born in 1852, he was too young to have enlisted. (I am very thankful he was too young, because he might have died and I wouldn’t be here now talking about him.) Even though he was not in the war, he was a peripheral part of it, and was affected by the aftermath, as was the whole nation. His support for Hayes gives me a sense of his political leanings and beliefs, something he left no clue about to his descendants, until this article was found.
I’ll end this post with a friendly reminder. VOTE!
Sources: Oconto County Reporter, 1876-07-22; v5issue38p3col4 Oconto County Reporter, 1876-08-19; v5issue42p3col4 Oconto County Reporter, 1876-09-02; v5issue44
I found another article regarding the fire that burned down Bert and Flo Cain’s tavern, it has a few more details and does confirm that the young lady living with them was Flo’s daughter from a previous relationship.
When I first started researching my father’s family history, (many, many moons ago), I wrote to a relative (I forget who) asking what they knew about the family. The response I received contained what little information they had to share, along with a mention of memories of my great grandmother Gert not speaking to one of her sisters. Something to do with politics. Now I am wondering if maybe it was something else entirely.
Carrie Rosa and John Cain had, along with several daughters, six sons (in order of birth):
Albert (Bert) b1887
Henry (Harry) b1892
While doing research in Oconto County newspapers, I ran into several articles in which Bert Cain was the subject, and not in a good way. In fact a few of the Cain brothers were showing up in the newspaper regarding some crime or other they had committed.
James and William* were caught using dynamite to catch fish in the Oconto River in 1915. I don’t know how, or if, William was punished, as there was no judgment found with his name on it, but James was charged $5.00 and spent 30 days in jail. (This was the only time William showed up in court.) James, however, was convicted in 1922 of being in possession of privately manufactured liquor. This time he paid a $200 fine and spent 90 days in jail. Ouch! Milton, the youngest, was always trying to get into saloons when he was underage and was fined twice for his attempts, once in 1912 ($2.00) and again in 1915 ($1.00).
Now to Bert.
Before I dove into the rabbit hole of my latest newspaper research I didn’t know much about Bert. I knew his wife’s name was Florence ____; they never had any children together, that I am aware of; and in 1955 he committed suicide with a shotgun blast to the head. I can say with certainty that I now know a lot more.
Bert and Flo owned/ran a drinking establishment called Swamp Saloon in the Town of Little River, in Oconto County for many years.
The first time he shows up in trouble in the newspaper was in 1920. He was on trial for manslaughter.
All told he paid a fine of $750 for killing someone.
The next time Bert shows up in court is in 1921. He was arrested and charged with selling liquor in violation of the National Prohibition Act, which had been passed in 1919.
Another arrest occurred in 1925. Again for selling liquor. On the face of things this seems pretty innocuous, just another violator of prohibition. (The prohibition act, while enacted basically good intentions, was a farce that didn’t really address the problem of alcoholism and domestic violence, which was the actual intent. It merely made scummy mobsters rich.) The saloon was most likely closed during the trial, along with others.
In reading over the case file I wasn’t really expecting much of interest to show up, after all it was just another case of illegal liquor sales, but boy was I surprised.
It appears that Bert and Flo, while never being charged as such, were also ‘procurers’ or pimps. They conveniently provided prostitutes for interested ‘clients’, and took a part of the ladies’ profits, renting the rooms in their ‘hotel’ for the use of the couples. Below are clips from the court case regarding their prostitution related offenses:
There was no judgment in this case as it was the preliminary hearing to decide whether or not to proceed to trial. Bert and Flo probably pled guilty and paid the fine. They didn’t serve any time in jail as far as I can tell.
In 1931 Bert was again in court for the same reason, as seen in this amusing newspaper article:
I could find no case specific to this time period for Bert. Again, it doesn’t appear that he actually went to jail for any of these offenses, and probably paid another fine.
Bert and Flo continued to operate their saloon until 1933 when an unfortunate and terrifying event occurred:
The article mentions a daughter Leona [age 17], this would be Florence’s daughter from a previous marriage. This incident didn’t stop Bert and Flo though, they continued to operate drinking and eating establishments as shown in this Billboard magazine news clip from 1941:
As to their prostitution related activities, the length of time of their involvement is not clear. I can find no record of either Bert or Flo being brought to court for them, at least in Oconto County.
We don’t know how much of this activity Gertrude was aware of. But my guess is that it is this brother and sister-in-law whom she didn’t much associate with.
This is a link to the court hearing for James and William, with testimony. Makes for some interesting reading.
Thankfully, for my readers, I recently came across the information in the following post just in time for this Memorial Day. Although Milton did not die during a war, he did serve and was wounded, so I am telling his story in that respect.
Milton Cain was one of two of the youngest children of John Cain and Carrie Rosa, as he was a twin, along with his sister Mildred. Both were born in Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin in November of 1894.
When the United States officially joined with Europe in efforts to defeat the Kaiser during WWI, Milton had already been in the Wisconsin State Guard for a year and a half. He was 22 years old when he was assigned to Company B, 150th Machine Gun Battalion, 42nd Division. Otherwise known as the ‘Rainbow Division’2, (because it consisted of National Guard units from 26 different states, along with the District of Columbia).
Milton, and his fellow soldiers, were all shipped to Camp Mills in Mineola, Long Island on September 3rd of 1917, where they waited for orders to sail to Europe. And on October 18 they boarded the Covington in Hoboken, New Jersey to begin their trip to France.
The local papers in Oconto County did their best to keep their readers informed about the goings on during the war, as in this article which started the efforts to track the boys route during the war.
The 42nd went overseas to the Western Front of Belgium and France in November 1917, one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to do so. The AEF was commanded by GeneralJohn Joseph Pershing. Upon arrival there the 42nd Division began intensive training with the British and French armies in learning the basics of trench warfare which had, for the past three years, dominated strategy on the Western Front, with neither side advancing much further than they had in 1914. The following year, the division took part in four major operations: the Champagne-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In total, it saw 264 days of combat. While in France, the division was placed under French control for a time. [from Wikipedia entry for Rainbow Division.]
According to published accounts of the 42nd, the 150th specifically was involved in the following battles:
Luneville sector, Lorraine, France, 21 February-23 March, 1918
Baccarat sector, Lorraine, France, 31 March-21 June, 1918
Esperance-Souain sector, Champagne, France, 4 July-14 July, 1918
Champagne-Marne defensive, France, 15 July-17 July, 1918
Aisne-Marne offensive, France, 25 July-3 August, 1918
St. Mihiel offensive, France, 12 September-16 September, 1918
Essey and Pannes sector, Woevre, France, 17 September-30 September 1918
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 12 October-31 October, 1918.
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France, 5 November-10 November, 1918
When Milton was seriously injured on July 29, 1918, it is possible this happened during the Aisne-Marne offensive. But his injury did not keep him from continuing on with his company. The last battle that the 150th was involved in was the one most known to me, and probably others, that is the Battle of the Argonne Forest. It was the first part of the final offensive of the Allied forces along the Western Front. This battle lasted 47 days and ended with Armistice on November 11, 1918.3
Milton came home in 1919, unlike many of his fellow comrades in arms. He married and even became Mayor of Oconto, twice, in the 1950s. He died November 8, 1972 still living in Oconto.
Ex-Mayor Cain Died At Age 78 Former Mayor Milton J. Cain of Oconto died Wednesday at Oconto Memorial hospital following an extensive illness. Mr. Cain, a popular votegetter in both Oconto and Oconto county, served as mayor for two separate terms, from 1952-1954 and from 1958-1960.
He also was an alderman (city councilman) and a supervisor on the Oconto County Board.
He was a tavern owner for many years and a member of the VFW.
Mr. Cain was born November 24, 1894 in Oconto, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Cain, He attended Oconto schools and was a lifelong resident of Oconto. He married the former Eva Bitters on October 18, 1927. A veteran of World War I, he served with the 42nd Rainbow Division.
Survivors include his wife; one daughter, Mrs. Jan (Helen) Hansen of Appleton; one son, William of Oconto; one brother, Harry of Waukesha, 7 grandsons and one great-grandchild. Three brothers and three sisters preceeded him in death.
In memory of those who gave their lives while serving their country.
The Farmer Herald, vol. 21, Issue 12 1918-08-23 page 1. Milton Cain image regarding WWI soldiers. “Milton Cain, a son of Mrs. Carrie Cain with the Rainbow Division was severely wounded July 29th.” 
Birthday Party A surprise party was tendered Mrs. John Cain Thursday evening in honor of her birthday anniversary [67 years old]. Bunco was played, the prize going to Mrs. Surprise and Mrs. William Trepanier.1
Carried probably had a very good time at her party, as long as there was music playing, because she loved to dance.
1 Oconto County Reporter Enterprise-Enquirer; v54issue28, 1925-04-23
This was such a sad and touching story that I had to share it.
George Dennis Cain born in Oconto, Wisconsin in 1882, was the fourth child born to John and Carrie Cain. His middle name appears to be in honor of his great grandfather Dennis Connelly. Like the rest of his siblings he grew up in the City of Oconto. And when he was old enough he married a young women by the name of Estella ___ . Sometime about 1900 he moved his family to Forest County, Wisconsin (Leona / Soperton). Estella and George had at least three children together: Milton, Marion (Mae) and Pat, (This was apparently not Estella’s first marriage though, as she had an 8 year old son Thaddeus who lived with them in 1920.)
Unfortunately for George he inherited that CAIN family bad luck, which appeared when he developed stomach cancer in 1925 and by the end of the year it killed him. He was only 42 when he died, another young death for the CAIN line.
His daughter Mae took his death very hard:
NOTE: I don’t know if the above article has the surviving child incorrect, or if it his obituary that is wrong, but something is amiss regarding the matter. In the 1920 census a child Thaddeus is listed as a stepson and Milton is the only child listed as George and Stella’s, so Marion and Pat must have been infants, 4-1 years of age, in 1925. I don’t know who George, jr. is.