This grave marker is located in the Dayton City Cemetery in Dayton, Washington.
This is where my love and interest in genealogy and family history began. This information is about my great great grandfather, Ard Church. The only clue of information that led me to him was the 1900 Federal census in Mt. Idaho, Idaho where he is listed as being married to Stella. I was then able to find a marriage certificate in Idaho County where a Miss Stella Moyers marries Ard Church on April 29, 1900. Interesting enough that they have one child, Elmer Ellsworth, who is born in 1899 before they were married. In 1902 Mrs. Stella Church marries Owen William Montgomery and they have five children. Elmer Ellsworth takes on the name of Montgomery and this happens to be my mother's maiden name.
My Mom just made the hand off comment, "Why don't you see what you can find out about Ard Church. I couldn't find anything on the guy. I thought he may have had a tragic death in one of the many mines located in an Idaho city because Estella kept the name of Church when she married Owen Montgomery. Mining was a booming industry in 1900. And then I found this headstone pictured above. It is located in Dayton, Washington near Ard's parents, Elias and Mary Ann Church, and his brother's (Ellis) headstones. There was no death and as far as I could tell no divorce.
Well, fortunately for me, Washington state was really proactive in getting state census during the 1880's and I was able to locate the family and Ard on a few censuses from Columbia county. Washington state also has a wonderful digital collection online at www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/ and I was even able to find a court case involving Ard in his youth! This proved very exciting and helped paint the picture of what kind of life Ard was making for himself. He was accused of stealing a saddle with a buddy. In the end, his friend ended up with the blame for everything but he seemed to be present to help the court out in deciding where the blame was to be pointed.
The next step in finding clues about this elusive fellow was trying to find out the details of his death. Washington State also has a wonderful service of looking up obituaries at Eastern Washington University. It is a wonderful service that is free of charge. I use it a lot. http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/obituaries.aspx will explain the requirements for having a librarian look up an obituary for you. They were unable to provide me with an obituary unless I had a defined date within a few days. We can all understand that they don't want to have to search every newspaper for the entire year! So I wondered how I might find out the death date for Ard Church. There are plenty of death certificates on the Washington State website but there were none for my dear old grandpa, Ard Church.
Thank goodness for my genealogy buddy. She loves helping me out and has done so on more than a dozen occasions. I will forever shout her praises for the support and knowledge she has shared with me. She searched and found a death certificate for a man named Justin Art Church who died of tuberculosis in a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. I must admit I was skeptical at first, but then she pointed out the parents to me and the place of residence. They all matched up! Elias and Mary Ann were listed as his parents and Dayton, WA as the residence! Wow! It was an incredible huge piece of puzzle that clicked into place. On the death certificate it stated that Ard had been in the state of Utah for only three weeks and he was hospitalized for the last week before his death. The cause of death was listed as tuberculosis of the lungs.
The question is why is his name listed as Justin? Looking closer at the document, I see his brother-in-law, Frank Ehl, is the person that happens to be picking up the body and taking it back to Dayton. Maybe Justin was the name he went by and that Frank thought it was his first given name. Or maybe Frank didn't know him very well because we learn a little about Ard from his obituary that I was able to finally get because I had a death date of 8 April 1916.
The remains of Ard Church, aged 46 years, who died in Salt Lake City last Saturday, were brought to Dayton yesterday by his brother-in-law, Frank Ehls. He spent his youth in Dayton, but was a rover and never remained long in one place. He died of tuberculosis. He was a cousin of W. E. and A. P. Cahill, and is well remembered here.
A simple burial service will be conducted at the grave some time today, dependant on the arrival of his sister, Mrs. Ehls. (Julia)
The rover part struck me as interesting and that he never remained long in one place. I guess it was the Wild West. It would be fun to know some of the adventures of Ard Church.
I will never really be able to prove that Ard is my great great grandfather unless I do some DNA comparisons with other descendants of the Church family. I do know that Elmer always seemed to think that his father was Ard and that he told his wife that his name would have been Church. Ard's name was mentioned at Stella's funeral and the fact that she was married to him first and then to Owen Montgomery. I don't have a picture of this man but I am grateful for the facts I have been able to learn about his family.
Tuberculosis seems like an awful way to suffer. Interesting that Ard's father, Elias, also had a lung condition contributed to his service in the Civil War.