BSO follow-up reveals hidden treasures: Henry Renk and Rosina (Maurer) Smetts

Genealogists ask questions and try to find answers. Often, more questions arise as we search. This was the case as I explored the lives of Rosina Maurer and her husband Wilhelm Jacob Smetts. I reported that journey in a February 2018 post. As I searched local newspapers, I found the name of Henry Renk connected with Rosina. I made a note that this was a BSO to be explored another day. Now three years later, I found the answer. In this post I describe what I found and how I found it.

The newspaper clipping that generated my interest in 2018 was from a 1949 New Brunswick, New Jersey newspaper. [1] It said  ”Henry Renk attended funeral services for Mrs.  Rose Smetts at the home of Mr. and Mrs Robert Smetts in Matedeconk Thursday evening.” Rose/ Rosina was sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Herman Maurer.  Robert Smetts was one of Rosina’s children. I posed the question – What is Henry ‘s relationship to Rose?

In November 2020, a distant cousin saw my post about Rosina and Jacob and contacted me. He asked for more information about the children of Rosina and Jacob.  That’s when I rediscovered Henry Renk.  Rosina and Jacob’s youngest child, Robert Earl Smetts married Ethel Renk, the daughter of Henry Renk and Carrie Culver.  In 1949, Henry attended the funeral of his daughter’s mother- in- law. Henry had been a widower since 1917[2].  Henry, born 1873, and Rosina, born 1868. were of the same generation. He probably empathized after her loss of both a son and husband within the space of one month in 1936. [3] Both had been born in the United States to German immigrant parents.

In June, 1950, Robert and Ethel Smetts held a family reunion party in their home ” in honor of the 77th birthday anniversary of Mrs Smetts’ father, Henry Renk of Ridge road near here [ Monmouth Junction, New Jersey]”. [4]  Forty-five guests attended including Earl Renk, Edgar Renk , Albert Renk and their families. I imagine that the house overflowed with “14 grandchldren and eight great-children.”

Henry Renk died 27 November 1960[5] and was buried in Kingston Cemetery, next to his wife. [6] I have more information about Henry, his wife Carrie and their family. However, I am not going to delve into that here. I added their names to the family tree on Ancestry.

REFLECTION

A mystery solved and a BSO addressed. I realize the value of keeping record of BSOs. You never know when something will prompt you to look at it again, even years later. This was not a high priority item but does help to round out our family’s story.

What I learned:  keep good notes and include your sources. Obituaries and those personal notes in older newspapers are treasure troves of information.

What helped: Previous work and my notes.

What didn’t help:  Not having either paper or digital copies of all newspaper articles.  

To-do: Keep digital and/or paper copies of newspaper articles. Add URL for those articles to research logs.


SOURCES

[1] “Henry Renk attended funeral services”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey”, local newspaper (9 Jul 1949): p. 7; PDF images, Newspapers.com  (http://www/newspapers.com  :  accessed 10 Feb 2018), key word Mrs. Rose Smetts.

[2] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.finagrave.com  : viewed 28 January 2021), memorial page for Carrie Renk, Find A Grave Memorial # 44168202 , citing Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Kingston, Somerset County, New Jersey), memorial created by Wayne Irons, photograph by Wayne Irons.

[3] Jacob Smetts obituary. “”William J. Smetts”,” death notice, The Central New Jersey Home News, 14 December 1936, death date, death of son, funeral information; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 16 February 2018); citing The Central New Jersey Home News. p. 17, column 4.

[4] “Reunion is attended by 4 generations ”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey, local newspaper (28 June 1950): p. 4; PDF images, Newspapers.com  (http://www/newspapers.com   :  accessed 6 Jan 2021).

[5]. “Henry Renk,” obituary, The Central New Jersey Home News, 28 November 1960, Henry Renk . . . died yesterday; Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 30 January 2021).

[6] Find a Grave. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave  : viewed 28 January 2021), memorial page for Henry Renk, Find A Grave Memorial # 44168201, citing Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Kingston, Somerset County, New Jersey, USA), memorial created by Wayne Irons, photograph by Wayne Irons.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

One thought on “BSO follow-up reveals hidden treasures: Henry Renk and Rosina (Maurer) Smetts

  1. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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