Saturday, May 28, 2005

Genealogy: The Johns Family of Baroda, Michigan

*******Updates Below******

In this last of a genealogy trilogy, we lend words and space to try and retrace the times and travels of the family of my wife, Evelyn Johns Domingo.

It should be noted that most of the data gathered and collated here came from cemetery records made available on the web. For indeed, not only will the paper documents recording births and deaths in a place point to peoples’ identities and whereabouts, but the very gravesites with their gravestones, lapidas, markers, etc., will through the harsh tests of time survive to tell their own unique stories.

This is one such story.

In the 1830s, a certain John Johns came to these shores in the East Coast from Prussia bringing with him the following distinguishing details: Born January 1, 1836 and married to Mary Schuler. His parents were said to be Christian Johns and Mary Weckler, who probably continued to live and to die in Prussia. John is recorded as having died in November 24, 1910.

And of special mention could be the fact that upon landing on these shores they had changed, or anglicized, their names for they were known to be Jewish.

John sired three children. A William Johns, married to Arilla A. Hyland, born on March 23, 1868 and died on March 25, 1941. A Peter H. Johns, married to Cora Washburn (who died on July 10, 1989 but had remarried to Charles Paden), born September 16, 1865 and died April 16, 1903. And the last one, a Jacob Johns who was married to Emma Warsko, who was born on February 25, 1874 and died June 9, 1928.

My wife’s maternal grandfather was Ernest J. Johns, a son of Peter H. Johns. He had seven other siblings, both full and half (because Cora Washburn had remarried after Peter).

Ernest J. was born in October of 1898 and was married to Braulia Duran, who came from a remote area in Sorgoson.

The obvious question may be asked how it was possible for a gentleman from temperate Michigan to meet and marry barrio lass from hot and humid Sorsogon, located in the southern tip of the island of Luzon in the Philippines?

The story unravels very much similar to stories of people with the wanderlust borne out of the insatiable human spirit that seeks out new things, new frontiers, anything new and daring, exciting adventures, etc..

At the close of WWI, sometime in 1917, Ernest J. took the then pioneering decision to uproot himself from his familiar and cozy surroundings in the East to try his luck on a faraway archipelago of 7,100 islands dotting the wide expanse of the vast Pacific. The Philippine Islands, American territory, land of promise and coconut trees as far as the eye can see.

His forte was in mining, throwing him to the remote mountainous areas of the archipelago where gold and silver were prospected. And that was how Braulia was to meet her future life’s partner, from Sorsogon, to Masbate, to the mountains of Toledo, Cebu.

Both Ernest J. and Braulia are now dead. One dying over 35 years ago and the other 20 years later. But an irony continues to cling and to haunt that then unusual partnership that started many years ago and produced six offspring, one being my mother-in-law, Fay Domingo.

Michigan-raised Ernest is buried in a cemetery in Cebu, while Sorsogon-descended Braulia is buried in a Colma Cemetery here in California.

And thus, the twain shall have to meet again ...sometime.

UPDATE: February 24, 2008

A crude chart of the Johns family is attached below.

Click on image to enlarge.

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