On 23 Aug 2020 I blogged about “The Mysteries of Susie,” stating that I was about to give up on Susan ("Susie") Bell/Belle Tingley’s missing thirty plus years and the identity of her later husband “Sturdevant.” No more! The mystery has been solved.
Susie spent most of those missing years, between 1900 and her death in 1930, in Decatur, Illinois. This was always suspected but the name changes that came with marriage made confirmation difficult. I use the plural “name changes” since Susie married three times. The first was, of course, to that scalawag Samuel. Then, when Samuel died in 1903, Susie married Henry Dieckhoff about the same year. Or perhaps I should say she had a relationship with Henry since I can find no marriage record. (Of course, marriage records are often difficult to locate.) Susie and Henry appear together in the Decatur, Illinois, 1910 census, which reports that the couple had been married seven years.
|Henry and Susie's Fairlawn marker, but|
she's not buried here. (Find A Grave)
Henry Dieckhoff was born 2 Nov 1859 (or 2 Nov 1860) in Illinois to German immigrants. He grew up in DeWitt Co, Illinois, but moved to Decatur in Macon Co, Illinois, around 1881 and was followed by his parents, Herman and Mary/Maria (Peters) Dieckhoff around 1888. In Decatur Henry worked as a carpenter and cabinet maker. When he married Susie he was a 44-year-old bachelor with no known prior attachments. The marriage ended with Henry’s suicide on 2 Jan 1918. Henry hanged himself on his back porch, despondent, it was claimed, due to long-term cancer. His grave marker in Fairlawn Cemetery, Decatur, gives the spelling of his name as “Deickhoff,” but that was a name given him by some in his later years. The German spelling “Dieckhoff” was used during most of Henry’s life. The cemetery marker is also inscribed with Susie Belle’s name and her date of birth (knocking off four years, but keeping the day and month, 4 Jul, the same as given elsewhere). But the marker’s date of death for Susie is blank. When Henry died it was expected that Susie would one day be buried with him, but that was not to be.
The twice-widowed Susie continued living in Decatur, supporting herself by working as a seamstress. Then on 6 Sep 1923, the Decatur Herald reported that “Susie Deickhoss” married A. J. Sturdevant in Decatur the previous day. Her name is shown as “Susie Dieckhoff” in a list of marriage licenses in the same newspaper.
“A. J. Sturdevant” was Andrew J. Sturdevant, born 15 Apr 1854, 15 Apr 1858, or Apr 1855 in either Indiana or Illinois. We know almost nothing about Andrew’s early life before he arrived in Decatur around 1896, other than he had married Susan M. Simmons in Johnson Co, Illinois on 25 Feb 1876. (Two Susans. That certainly muddles things.) The couple had seven children, but four died young. Then, on 2 Dec 1921 Andrew’s first wife, Susan, died in Decatur.
Andrew’s second marriage, to Susie, was very short owing to Andrew’s death 14 Apr 1928 at his East Waggoner Street home in Decatur. Actually, it was Susie’s home, the one in which she and Henry Dieckhoff had lived. Andrew had moved in with Susie when they were married. He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery, Decatur, where his first wife was interred.
And that’s the rest of the story. Sort of.