Ada Isabelle Beghtol Roate passed away on December 5, 2015, at the age of 95. Link to Hendricker Funeral Home, Mt. Sterling, Illinois for her obituary: http://www.hendrickerfh.com/obituaries.htm
[Photo: Ada with her nephew, Harold.]
Ada was my great-great-aunt. There was never a time I did not know Aunt Ada. She was my connection to the great-grandparents I never had a chance to know. Because of my interest in family history, Aunt Ada, and her sister Aunt Rena, were valuable resources. In my teens and 20s, Aunt Ada told me stories about her parents—my great-great-grandparents, Samuel and Quintille “Tilly” Fry Beghtol. One that has always stuck out in my mind was her description of Sam going berry picking, wearing a heavy coat over his shirt, and sweating from the heat of it.
[Photo: Sam and Tilly Beghtol with children: Minnie, Lawrence, and Rena.]
I could not get enough of her stories about her aunts and uncles. Ada was about 20 years younger than her brother (my great-grandpa) and her sisters, so she heard a lot of stories about those early generations, but she also knew a lot of those people too.
She told me about Cousin Nora Lawrence, Aunt Nancy Beghtol Teeples Korteen’s daughter. Nora died without any children. She was forgotten by everyone, except Ada…and me…and now you who are reading this, maybe hearing that name for the first time.
Aunt Betty Beghtol Jones was what Ada called, “a real person.”
She spoke of Uncle Bill Beghtol with affection and wonder, even though he spent time in Joliet prison. (Actually, two of her uncles—Bill and John—both spent some time there—stealing chickens was their crime.) As part of the prison work program, Bill made furniture and jewelry boxes; Ada had one of his chairs. She recalled that Uncle Bill would visit and give her candy that was chocolate, caramel, and coconut. She told me that Bill was killed by a man over a fight about a crowing rooster. I’ve read the newspaper accounts of the shooting—Ada was mostly right!
In my 40s, I continued to ask Ada about those stories, and she would retell them exactly the way she did 20 years earlier. Her mind was sharp, but her wit was sharper.
Aunt Ada agreed to help me with a genealogy project and did a DNA kit for me several years ago. Ada’s ethnic makeup is 48% British, 33% Scandinavian, 17% Southern Europe, and 2% Middle Eastern. The surprise is that there was no Native American—I thought for sure that side of the family was Indian!
Her nephew, Eldon Beghtol, had also participated in the project, and between them we started making connections with distant cousins on the Fry side of the family. Ada’s grandpa, John Fry, was born in 1828 in Pennsylvania or Ohio, and was in the Civil War. We have several matches with his brothers’ and sisters’ descendants.
We have a nice group of Beghtol matches and researchers working on the mysteries of this line. Through DNA we found descendants of Ada’s uncle, Leavi Beghtol (Levi Bectell). The family Bible said that Leavi went to the Civil War and never returned. Actually, he walked to Utah and became a sheep herder and a Latter-Day Saint. He married a widow, then married her daughter—maybe at the same time!
A recent match with a Lantz of California is a great-grandson of Ada’s sister, Minnie Beghtol Lantz.
But the most amazing discovery is that Ada had another sister! Ada had often spoken of a lost brother—Guy Lawrence or Guy Franklin Fry—a child Tilly had before marriage who was adopted out. Ada also knew that her father had been married before to a Minnie Black Notson. The marriage lasted three weeks—give or take a few days—and ended because Minnie was not legally divorced from her first husband, William Notson. Sam and Minnie separated. A year ago last Christmas, a match was made with a great-granddaughter of Minnie Black Notson—and everything points to Sam Beghtol being the father of Minnie’s daughter, Laura. This would be Ada’s oldest sister, born about 1897.
[Photo: My son, Paschal, meeting Great-Great-Great-Aunt Ada.]
I will miss Aunt Ada. I am glad she got to meet my wife and son. I am glad I called her on her last birthday to talk about family. I’m glad she got to know we found Levi. I am glad she learned about the other sister. She sounded glad to find out all this too! Aunt Ada’s spirit will always be with me as long as I continue researching our family tree.