Father Unknown and the Birthday of Known Father

On the early hours of my husbands 40th  birthday I will do what I have never done, so far, on this blog… share a story of a non-blood relative. But I have married into this family and these are the ancestors of my children.  So I come to share part of that history.  I have spent the past week delving into my Mother-in-laws family. Her father was Robert Samuel Drake and he was married to Doreen Magdalene Wellhauser.

Grandma Drake (Doreen) is the only Great Grandparent my children have left on this earth. They met three of their Great Grandmothers but since my youngest child was born, in 2005, two have since passed away: Ewilda (Beyea) Fisher & Anne (Hamilton) Langille.

So I would like to tell the story of Doreen’s side of the family: The Wellhausers.

There still is a lot of research to be done, but here is what I was able to find in one week…

Sometime around 1813 Mathew Wellhauser was born in Germany. Eventually he married a woman named Cresentia Teufel and together they headed to Canada (I have yet to sort out when).  By the 1871 Census Mathew is widowed and living with his children in Pilkington, Wellington County, Ontario.

In the 1881 Census Mathew is still listed as widowed and living with his children. His oldest child is Philipine, age 26, and his youngest is 7 year old Joseph. That set off alarm bells in my head… and here is thought pattern that developed:

If Mathew has been widowed since 1871 how could Joseph be his child, born in 1874?

Perhaps Mathew was married and widowed twice! Did he remarry after 1871 and his second wife died after 1874 and before the census was taken in spring 1881?

So I checked the Ontario marriage registry and couldn’t find any marriage for Mathew during that time.

So the next step was to look for Josephs birth registry and there was the answer.

Joseph Phillip Wellhauser

ILLEGITIMATE

born on 27 March 1874

Mother: Phillipine Wellhauser

Father: no father listed (blank)

Informant: Mathew Wellhauser, teacher.

So sometime in the summer of 1873 Phillipine, who was 17 or 18 (she was born in 1855), had a relationship of some sort. It could have been a torrid love affair, or an abusive situation; it could have been a married man, or a fellow of the wrong religious denomination (Phillipine was Roman Catholic)… it could have been any number of possible situations.

Since the Informant for the register was Phillipine’s father, he might have known who the father was, but didn’t want it known publicly. Or perhaps Phillipine would not tell him and he honestly couldn’t answer the question of paternity. It is a question that will likely have no answer… and there’s a good chance Phillipine took the secret to her grave.

In the 1911 Census Philipena Wellhauser is 55, exactly the age our Phillipine should be in 1911.  Her birth month is listed as September and her marriage status is Widowed. In the Census she is living in the house of William Walsh as his Mother-in-Law. William’s wife, Cecilia, would be Philena’s daughter. Also living in the home was William’s brother-in-law, John Wellhauser (indicating Philipena’s son). If this is our Phillipine Wellhauser, now widowed,  why does her son John have last name Wellhauser?! There is certainly more digging to be done here!

But, like I said, it has only been one week. I will keep digging and I will find more answer. This woman intrigues me. I am certain there is a lot more to her story than what I’ve written here.

What we do know, however, is this: Grandma Drake’s maiden name would not have been Wellhauser if the father of Phillipine’s child had taken responsibility for his son. Little Joseph took on his mothers last name, grew up, became a carpenter, and eventually married Magdalena Howse.

One of their children was Arthur Wellhauser who, on 30 December 1919, married Madeline Beckler in the Church of Our Lady, Guelph ON. They are the parents of Doreen Magdalene Wellhauser who still lives in Guelph today and who carries a middle name that honours her mother (Madeline Beckler) and grandmother (Magdalena Howse). She has 9 children, 15 grandchildren, and at least 10 great grandchildren.

Half of those great grandchildren are the grandchildren of my In-laws, Robert & Patricia Langille, and two of those are my own daughters, Grace Anwen Fisher Langille & Bridget Eilidh Fisher Langille. Their Daddy is Kevin Langille.

Happy 40th Birthday Kevin Langille. You are a wonderful and responsible                    husband  and father and WE LOVE YOU!

Too bad Kevin’s Great Great Great Grandmother, Phillipine Wellhauser, couldn’t say the same about the father of her child.


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Published in: on 26 February 2011 at 1:39 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent research! I have an illegitimate grandfather in Northern Ireland who gives me great difficulty in my research.

    I look forward to reading more and connecting with you again at a later date.

    Kat

  2. Very interesting.

    Is there a potential of incest in a situation like this? Would a child born of incest take the name of the father? How did the laws perceive incest during this era?

    Not trying to stir up bad feelings, just curious if there could be that potential.

    • Incest was a very serious offense at this time and any suspicions from the community’s citizens would have been addressed. No warning bells ring in my head as I study Mathew and his family. It did cross my mind initially but then I came to see Mathew as a very supportive father. It would have been socially acceptable for Matthew to turn his daughter away at any time, along with her offspring, but he did not do that. My suspicion lies on Philena. In one of the Census’s Phelina is making a large amount of money in her occupation, however her occupation is clearly erased on the Census. Philena had 3 illegitimate children in 11 years. Let your mind make your own conclusions, but I think, in this instance, Mathew was nothing but an extremely supportive, and perhaps forgiving, father.

  3. Hello,

    WOW! Very cool. I am getting together this weekend with my Wellhauser family in Guelph this Friday and Saturday. They(my Great Aunts) are all coming back here to their home town. Their father, my Great Old Pappy, was John Wellhauser and they all lived on Elora Street here in town.

    Very interesting to read and hear their take;) Anywho, I’m off to go freshen up one their drinks.

    Here is my phone number if you have any questions maybe we could send out some emails or something. (519-994-4910)

    Thanks,
    Bree

    • Is your great grandfather, John, the youngest son of Phillipine? If so, do any of your aunts have a memory of her (their grandmother)? I’d so love to hear if they did! What is their take on her having 3 “illegitimate” children in 11 years? Phillipine Wellhauser fascinated me! She is the great great great grandmother of my husband… and an extra great for my children.


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