Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jane “Jennie” Mauvillian Cooper Oswald (1864-1943) Part 2

Alta Mesa Memorial Park Cemetery, Palo Alto, California, visited and photographed by Kay Germain Ingalls, 13 January 2005.  Flat marker “Jennie M. Oswald Mother 1864 God Love You 1943.”
Jane “Jennie” M Cooper married William “Billy” Oswald on 19 Nov 1891 in Helena, Montana. Their only son, Austin Henry Cooper was born on 27 Aug 1892 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Oswald family was found in Fairbanks, Sully, South Dakota by 1900. 

Billy owned a sheep ranching farm in the 1890s in Montana. He moved to South Dakota around 1899, starting a cattle business and working on growing improvements on different types of wheat crops until 1905. Jennie’s mother, Elizabeth Gibson Cooper, died while visiting another daughter, Francis Cooper Gearhart in Sedalia, Missouri.  

Billy’s father died in 1906. Billy with his wife and son return home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to take care of his mother, Theresa Sieber Oswald, along with other legal responsibilities. I find the Oswald family living at 820 “Seventeenth” Ave. North in the 1910 US Census in Minneapolis, Montana. The census taker received incorrect information about Jennie being born in New York and her parents born in Massachusetts. Son is listed as “Frank” Oswald. City Directories from 1906-1911 list their address as 820 16th Ave. North. Verifying that is the correct family, son Austin H. Oswald is listed at above address in the 1910 Directory. Widow, Theresa Oswald is living at 1117 Sixth Street just a half a mile from where Billy and Jennie settled. 

My next clue is a family letter written on 6 April 1914. What a treasure! It was written by one of Billy’s cousin, Lena Sieber Elsesser Birk, of Barnsville, Minnesota, to her sister-in-law, Malinda Knudson Sieber, of Houston, Texas.

The letter mentions Jennie three times along with Austin Oswald once with some clues about them. 

“Mrs. Nicklay is all right since Jennie is getting along there keeping up the saloon.” Mrs. Nicklay is Lena’s daughter’s mother-in-law.

Regarding the cousin’s trip to Minneapolis: “And also Aunt [Theresa] Oswald [was well]. They all have a lovely home. I do like Jennie Oswald. She had to take us everywhere and be our guard. She has a lovely boy [Austin Henry Oswald]…”

The author also mentions receiving a letter from Jennie mentioning “that Annie Foster got $600 from a streetcar company though having a fall and hurting herself.” 1

I would love to see this letter from Jennie to Lena!

By 1916, I find the Oswald family in Sacramento, California, mentioned in a city directory. They buy a ranch in Los Altos, south of Sacramento. They are listed here in directories until 1920. The family disappears in the 1920 U.S. Census. 

Again, directories and voters registrations come to the rescue. From 1922 to 1934, Will Oswald and son Austin share the responsibilities of running a ranch and vineyard in neighboring Cupertino. 

A news article from the San Francisco Chronicle dated Thursday, October 11,1923, mentioned father, Will Oswald and son, Austin Oswald as “expert viticulturists” who testified in a local family lawsuit, “to the effect that the vineyard had been improperly damaged, was in poor condition, that a large percentage of the vines were dead and that others were infested with mildew.” 2

1930 United States Census, California, Santa Clara County, population schedule, Fremont, enumeration district (ED) 43-10, Sheet 12-A, Family #35, John W. Oswald household; digital image, ( : accessed 19 Feb 2018); citing National Archives Microfilm Publication T626, Roll 219.
Billy and Jennie Oswald are found in Fremont, Santa Clara, California, in the 1930 Census. This census states that Jennie was naturalized in 1891. So that means she came earlier than I found with another Jane Cooper. I will have to do more research as to when she came to America. Austin is married to Helen, who immigrated from Germany in 1907. They were possibly married in 1927. I will have to do more research at my local Family History Center for California Marriage Records. 

John William “Billy” Oswald died on 1 June 1932 of myocarditis. He was buried at Alta Mesa Cemetery of Palo Alto, California. Obituaries for Billy were found in two Minneapolis, Minnesota, newspapers. One included here. 

J. W. Oswald obituary, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Tuesday, June 14, 1932. page 20. Col. 1. : Accessed 19 Feb 2018.

Alta Mesa Memorial Park Cemetery, Palo Alto, California, visited and photographed by Kay Germain Ingalls, 13 January 2005.  Flat marker “John W. Oswald Father 1860-1932.”
By 1935, Jennie is living with her son, Austin, and daughter-in-law, Helen at 933/935 Ramona St. in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, California, according to Voter’s Registrations, Directories and the 1940 U.S. Census.

Jane Mauvillian Cooper Oswald died on 2 March 1943.

Jennie M. Oswald obituary, Palo Alto Times (Palo Alto, California), Tuesday, March 3, 1943. Accessed 19 Feb 2018.
Her obituary is my only source of her birth location at this point. She is buried next to her husband, John W. Oswald, at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park Cemetery in Palo Alto, California. Walter E. Cooper, of Denver, Colorado, is her only living sibling mentioned. Walter died six years later, being the last living adult child of fourteen of Austin Cooper and Elizabeth Gibson.

Her son Austin Henry Cooper continued with his life in Palo Alto. He is living at 651 Waverly from 1946-1962. He works as an inspector for Westinghouse Electric Company. In 1963, he moves to 152 Tasso St. and works as a Quality Assurance Manager. He retires in 1969. Austin died on 15 December 1972, leaving his widow, Helen Oswald. They have no children. Austin is buried in the same plot with his mother in Alta Mesa Memorial Park Cemetery. There is no marker for Austin. Helen, his wife, died in 1976, of pneumonia in a convalescent home buried along with Austin and Jennie with no marker.

Billy and Jennie had a great life together. But Billy had a different life before he met Jennie. Billy was in jail for murder! More details to follow.

1 Lena Birk of Barnesville, Minnesota, to Lynn Sieber of Houston, Texas, letter, 6 April 1914, personal correspondence, letter [data] in possession of Joanne Baucum, used by permission. 
2  “Experts Come to Aid Heney In Law Action,” The San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 11, 1923. 
page 7. column 1. Accessed from on 11 Oct 2015.

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