Remember When?

This photo is of O-Ke- Wash, also known as Sophia Sagataw and Sophia Williams. She’s listed on the Durant Roll as well as the 1870 census of Chippewa and Ottawa of Michigan. She’s also the common ancestor of the Sagataws of Hannahville, the Hardwicks of Delta County, Macabee descendants of Delta, Chippewa, and Mackinac Counties, as well as the Williams descendants of Sault Ste. Marie.

Since her descendants are scattered across the country and include members of the Hannahville, Sault, and Grand Traverse Band tribes, I think the best way to share the photo with my distant relatives is to have it printed in tribal newsletters.

O-Ke-Wash is my great-great-great-grandmother, and I’m descended from her daughter, Sophia Hardwick. I’ve been researching this family for several years, and my grandmother didn’t know the name of the boy in the photo, but most likely it’s one of O-Ke-Wash’s sons.

A member of the Traverse Band of Chippewa and Ottawa, Sophia “O-Ke-Wash” was born about 1831, and was married at least twice – first to Joseph Medwesh and later to James Williams. According to her granddaughter, Elizabeth (Hardwick) Stone Paquette, Joseph Medwesh had gone away to fight in the Civil War and never returned.

By 1868, Sophia was married to James Williams, and according, to the 1907 Durant Roll and other census records, they lived in Stonington in Delta County, where James died on July 30, 1909. In 1920 Sophia was living with her granddaughter, Annie (Macabee) Nadeau, in Stonington. Her date and place of death remain unknown, as does her place of burial.

The Durant Roll lists four living children in 1097:

George Sigwate (or Sagataw) was born around 1854, and married Christine Osawwawnemeke (although Christine’s death record states that her maiden name was Neance). George and Christine farmed in Stonington and had at least nine children: Alex, Lawrence, Emma, Benedict, Martin, Joseph, Annie, Martha, and Lucy. The family suffered tragically during the flu epidemic of 1918 when Christine and three children died in the span of two weeks. The Sagataws moved to Hannahville by 1930, and George died in Harris on April 24, 1930. George’s son, Benedict, was a veteran of World War I and settled in Harbor Springs.

Sophia Medwesh was born around 1857, and her marriage record states that her father’s name was Joseph Medwesh. Sophia married George Hardwick in Escanaba on Dec. 26, 1875. They farmed in Stonington where they raised five sons and three daughters: Moses, Catherine, George, David, John, Ellen, Elizabeth, and Joseph.

Sophia died in a house fire on May 17, 1912, while trying to rescue her 6-year-old granddaughter, Hazel Boursaw, who also perished in the fire. Her husband died in Nahma Township in Delta County, on June 23, 1929. Both are buried in Indiantown Cemetery in Delta County.

Mary Medwesh was born around 1862, and she married Moses Macabee n Fayette on Feb. 5, 1883. They farmed in Bay de Noc and Nahma Townships in Delta County, where they raised one son and five daughters: Jennie, Anna, Frank, Mae, Rose, and Eva. Mary died on July 8, 1914, and was buried in Indiantown Cemetery. Her husband moved to Manistique around 1920, where he died on April 19, 1935.

Norman Williams was born around 1868, and his father was James Williams. Norman married Angeline Beaver in Delta County on July 13, 1891, and they had five children: Mary, Sophia, Norman, Jane, and Louise.

Norman worked in the woods and the family spent many years in Schoolcraft County. By 1930 he and his wife had settled in Sault Ste. Marie; their daughter Louise was married to Norman Boulley by the time and was living on Sugar Island. Norman Williams died in 1941 and Angeline died on Feb. 27, 1958, in Sault Ste. Marie. She was buried in Hessel Cemetery in Mackinac County.

If anyone has information on these families, I’d like to hear from you. I can be contacted by mail to Ken Wengert, 27703 Avy School Rd., Pecatonica, IL 61063; by phone at (815) 298-2703; or by email to kjw3.66@gmail.com.

Ken Wengert has been doing extensive research on his family and has traveled to Delta County seeking information on his descendants. Wengert is the grandson of the late Henry and Cecile (Groleau) Ross of Gladstone.