Thursday, May 7, 2015


 Chester, Helen, Walter & Adolph Ortell
ORTELL_Chester_headshot from Paula Hockster circa 1930 EPSON scanner image
ORTELL_Adolph_headshot provided by Paula Hockster_B&W
This is one of those days.  I’m continuing my goal to get all of those 33 death certificates I downloaded from the site in March, entered and sourced in my Legacy database.  When I wrote the blog post about this process I had only recorded 4 of them.  I am up to 21 as of this afternoon.  Progress is good.
However, in doing my entries today, I am reminded of the terrible heartbreak that occurred in many of the lives of our ancestors.  Today it concerns the Ortell family.
The Ortell’s are related to me via my 2nd & 3rd cousins, Paula, Shirley, Betty & Debbie.  I’m closest to my cousin, Paula, but am proud to call all these ladies family.
Shirley, Betty & Paula are daughters of Everett Hockster and Mary Sophie Ortell.  It is the story of Mary Ortell’s siblings and father that I share with you today.

Here is the story of the Ortell’s as I recorded it today.
6 May 1936 – Chester Ortell, age 23 dies of a broken neck in a tractor accident on the family farm.
17 Nov 1936 – Helen Ortell, age 22 dies of pulmonary tuberculosis.
7 Feb 1937 – Ladislaus “Walter” Ortell (father of Chester, Helen & Adolph), age 47 dies of a fractured skull in an auto accident.
22 May 1944 – Adolph Ortell, age 26 jumps to his death from the 7th story of a hotel.

Within 9 months, between May 1936 and Feb 1937, Walter Ortell’s wife Sophie lost two of her children and her husband.  Then 7 years later she loses another son.  In 1920 she had lost a son at the age of one month to convulsions.

I cannot help but be affected by these events.  Our ancestors are very real people with the same joys and sorrows that we have in our lives.  I never want to forget that.

Here is a family group photo of some of the Ortell children, including Chester, Helen & Adolph
 ORTELL Children_1930_Helen-Chester-Mary-Al-Bernice-Annie-Henry-Adolf

Here are the death certificates for Chester, Helen, Walter and Adolph
ORTELL_Chester_death cert_6 May 1936_LondonMonroeMichigan
Death certificate - Chester Ortell
ORTELL_Helen B_death cert_17 Nov 1936_DetroitWayneMichigan
Death certificate - Helen Ortell
ORTELL_Walter_death cert_7 Feb 1937_WyandotteWayneMichigan
Death certificate - Walter Ortell
ORTELL_Adolph_death cert_1944_DetroitWayneMichigan
Death certificate - Adolph Ortell
Newspaper article about the death of Walter Ortell and one that tells of the families sad losses.
ORTELL_Walter_newspaper article about car accident that caused his death_7 Feb 1937_MonroeEveningNews ORTELL_Walter_1937_Special2MonroeEveningNews_enhanced
There are memorials created for the Ortell family on  You may visit them here:

Chester – Memorial #93489947
Helen – Memorial #93490009
Walter – Memorial #89393193
Adolph – Memorial #93489344

Do you have stories like this in your family that have made you stop and think of what they went through?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.  Please share in comments here or on your own blog with a comment and a link to your blog.

If you think you might be related, even remotely, to anyone mentioned in this blog, please contact me!
WEDDING WEDNESDAY - Walter Ortell & Sophie Warchol – 1908
THRILLER THURSDAY - Hobart B. Stewart Murdered – 1936

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. I know how you feel. Since the records for Luxembourg were so well kept I am finding birth records for every child born to a couple. But this means I am also finding the death records. The cause of death is not listed but many died before their parents. Only yesterday I found the 1855 census listing of my husband's 2nd great-grandmother at age 2 yrs. with her 43 yrs. old mother and 75 yrs. old father. The mother had given birth to 5 children who died before young Elizabeth was born. The aged father died 2 years later and Elizabeth was raised without a father as her mother never remarried. This is not a rare case. Many children and mothers died young in Luxembourg, mostly in not so well off families. ~ Cathy

    1. Cathy - That's a sad story from your family. Huge age difference in those parents. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. My 3x great grandmother outlived 6 of her 7 children. The 7th died only four months after her mother. Such sorrow!

    1. We have our sorrow now to be sure, but it seems like our ancestor's lives were sometimes heaped in it.
      Thank you for stopping by Margie.

  3. I can totally understand your sadness, this is too much tragedy for one family. You have done them proud with your post.
    Vicki Heneker, Adelaide, South Australia

    1. Thank you so much Vicki, I hope I have. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. What a sad family story! My husband's tree has a family I need to write about where several sons died in the Civil War and a sister died after sustaining burns while washing clothes around an open fire just a few years before the war. I'll have to find my notes and tell their story.

    Thanks for your comment about my ancestor story where one brother was killed by the Indians and another scalped and then the men were taken captive to Canada. Thanks for the book recommendation, too. I'll look into it! I read a true story about two sisters who survived years of Indian captivity. It's more of a young adult book and is written from a Christian perspective. And, it's a "genealogy" book, because it was written by a young lady who descended from one of these sisters! It's called, "Alone Not Yet Alone" by Tracy Michele Leininger. It also came out as a movie which is available on DVD in July... see

    1. The book you mentioned sounds interesting. The one I am reading, Thieving Forest is by Martha Conway. I will look for the one you mentioned. I enjoy reading the true stories from historical perspectives and have read a few this past year.
      Thanks for stopping by :)


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.