Joseph Wegley


Joseph Wegley is the son of Jonathan George Wegley and Sarah Circle. He was born on March 29, 1866, and died on January 5, 1946, in his hometown of Williston, North Dakota. Joseph is my 1st cousin 3x removed.

Joseph Wegley married his wife Tena Olson, who was 14 years younger than him. He first married her when he was 28 and that means she would have been 14. Yes, that is the correct spelling of her first name. I verified the spelling with multiple sources.

Together they had at least 9 children.

  • Cloyd J. 
  • Joe A.
  • Howard Joseph 
  • Edna Josephine
  • Theodore J.
  • Lester J.
  • Charles Joe
  • Dora V. 
  • Orville Jack

There was some confusing information about their children. I had to do a lot of digging and cross-referencing to get their children’s name down right.  In the 1920 US Census, we can see all of their children listed minus their youngest, Orville who wasn’t born yet.

If you have any children (aother than the 9 from above) listed for Joseph and Tena Wegley then you are mistaken and need to re-verify your information.

They lived at 211 East 2nd Street in 1911. right down the street from his brother Fred and his wife Alice, who lied at 223 East 2nd Street. We know this from the town directory which the local paper published from time to time.

Thanks to the US Census records we know that he owned his home and it was valued at $1,500. It was a farm, and he owned a radio (like us having a TV today). He did not go to school but he can read and write.  

 

 

‘Grand Forks Herald’, Grand Forks, North Dakota.  8 Nov 1907

Williston, N. D., Nov. 7 – A warrant has been issued for Fred Wegley, a brother of the mayor, the charge being the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors in what is commonly known as “Wegley’s Pig,” the joint in the lower regions of the concrete building on East Broadway.  The warrant was issued this morning and is now in the hands of the sheriff, who will serve it as soon as the defendant can be found, the understanding being that he has left the city temporarily.

‘Grand Forks Herald’, Grand Forks, North Dakota.  10 June 1909

Williston, N. D., June 9 – Fred Wegley has been acquitted.  The jury in the case was out just three minutes this morning when it returned a verdict of not guilty.  This case has attracted attention for the last year and a half on account of the accused being a brother of Former Mayor Joseph Wegley, who has the reputation of being the man who cleared Williston of blind pigs, and it was asserted that the mayor was protecting his brother and allowing him an exclusive righty to conduct a “pig”.

  The accused was tried three times before justices of the peace and each time found not guilty, and then was indicted by the grand jury, on which indictment he was just found not guilty.

  The outcome of the case convinces Wegley’s friends that the case was only a piece of spite work on the part of those opposed to Mayor Wegley to throw suspicion on the sincerity of his administration.

Here’s a crazy story about how he became mayor in the first place.

Fact: First North Dakota mayor accused of horse rustling

 

 

Williston’s first mayor, William Denny, did a lot to make it the state’s fastest-growing city during the first decade of the 20th century, growing from 763 people in 1900 to 3,124 in 1910, a rate of more than 300 percent. Denny was also suspected of being the ringleader of a large horse-rustling organization.
 
Denny established the first bank in Williston when he arrived in February 1899. He also had a large ranch on which he raised horses and Hereford cattle. He had connections in Montana where large numbers of horses were brought to his ranch and sold to him at $10 to $30 a head. Because northwestern North Dakota was rapidly filling up with homesteaders, Denny was able to sell each of the horses to the settlers for $150. Initially, most Williston residents considered Denny a shrewd businessman.
 
In June 1904, Denny was elected mayor and went to work to provide electricity and running water for the residents. He ran unopposed for re-election in 1905, and later that year, Denny was arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for being the fence of a large horse-stealing enterprise in Montana. He appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court for a retrial, which was granted to him since key pieces of evidence against him had disappeared. With the major evidence missing, a new trial never occurred, and Denny was set free.
 
William Henry Denny Jr. was born in New Auburn, Minn., on March 17, 1870, to William Sr. and Marian (Joslyn/Josline) Denny. William Sr. was a gunsmith, and the family moved to the larger town of Glencoe soon after William Jr.’s birth. In 1885, William Jr. attended Anoka Business College and after graduating two years later, “worked at various stores in St. Cloud.” In the fall of 1889, he traveled to Montana and found work as a ranch hand on the Diamond G Ranch, which was owned by J. D. “Dad” Williams. Also working for Williams was “Dutch Henry” Jauch (pronounced Yaw), who later organized “the largest horse stealing operation in eastern Montana.”

Williams found Denny to be trustworthy and asked the youngster to drive horses to central North Dakota to be sold. On his drives, Denny established friendships in Benson County, and he developed a romantic interest in Kate Huffnail, a school teacher in Minnewaukan. He moved to Minnewaukan in 1897 and, in July, went to work for the Benson County State Bank.

After working for a couple of years, learning how to operate a bank, Denny began exploring new opportunities. Seeing that the Great Northern Railway had reached Williston in 1898 and that it was about to establish branch lines from there to towns in the northwestern part of the state, he knew that settlers were soon to follow. Williston did not have a bank, and the town was ideally located, near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.

In 1898, Denny contacted Charles Hilton Davidson, a wealthy Canadian real estate dealer, and Thomas L. Beisaker, a Fessenden banker, who also owned a number of other banks in North Dakota and Minnesota, and the two men agreed to finance the establishment of a bank in Williston. When the Williams County State Bank opened on Feb. 19, 1899, Denny was named cashier and manager. Feeling financially secure, he married Kate on March 8.

From the money Denny was making at the bank, he began purchasing land, between Williston and the Montana border, on which to raise cattle and horses. His plan was to buy horses brought in from Montana and sell them to the homesteaders who were coming into northwestern North Dakota. Denny also began selling real estate and, in 1903, established the town of Trenton on his property.

On Feb. 3, 1904, Williston was incorporated as a city, and four months later, the newly elected councilmen chose Denny as mayor. According to Joseph Wegley, Denny’s successor as mayor, Williston was a wild-west town. Wegley wrote, “There were eleven saloons or blind pigs on Main Street and lots of them in the alleys … blind pigs prevailed and ruled the city.” Wegley also pointed out that Denny was in support of the saloons.

In 1905, Denny was re-elected, and he sent out bid proposals for the construction of city waterworks and an electrical plant. Besides serving as mayor, he also was kept busy buying and selling horses. On Oct. 26, law officers from Montana went to Denny’s ranch and discovered stolen horses. Denny and Art McGahey, the man who delivered the stolen horses, were arrested. Denny’s lawyers pointed out that the lawmen had presented insufficient evidence, and the arrest was rescinded.

Suspicion that Denny was the fence and possibly the kingpin of a large horse-rustling organization surfaced in September when Jack Teal, a Montana lawman, and George Hall, the stock inspector for the Montana Stockmen’s Association, arrested a horse thief. When the thief tried to escape, he was shot and killed. Teal and Hall went through the dead man’s belongings and discovered a letter that named Denny as the “chief fence” for stolen horses.

This information was corroborated by George Miller, a saloon owner whose establishment had recently been robbed by horse thieves. He told Hall and Sheriff William Griffith about an incident in which Tom Ryan, who had injured his writing hand, had Miller write a letter to Denny. “Ryan was the major rustler in eastern Montana now that Jauch had disappeared.” The letter stated that Ryan was having McGahey deliver horses to Denny.

Miller agreed to work with the lawmen. To make certain that the horses had been delivered, he went to the mayor’s ranch, posing as Ryan’s friend. Denny confirmed to Miller that the horses had arrived and had been sold. Denny also told Miller to tell Ryan to stop visiting his bank because “Montana authorities were breathing down his neck.”

Armed with this additional evidence, law officials returned to Denny’s ranch in mid-November to arrest him, but he was gone. He had been tipped off and fled to Benson County. The lawmen located Denny in Churchs Ferry and arrested him, but they were unable to take him into custody because the district judge, John Cowan, issued a habeas corpus decree declaring Denny needed to appear in court before he could be detained.

A trial was scheduled for August 1906, but Montana authorities did not believe justice would be served. In December 1905, Montana’s governor, Joseph Toole, made a request to Elmore Sarles, governor of North Dakota, that Denny be extradited, and Sarles agreed. However, Denny’s lawyers were able to get the extradition order rescinded.

At his trial on Aug. 9, 1906, Denny was found guilty of selling stolen horses and sentenced to three years in prison. However, Denny’s lawyers appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court for a retrial. The letters showing Denny’s involvement disappeared, before the court met on Oct. 11, 1908, and the court ordered a retrial. Since the prosecution no longer had their most important evidence, a new trial never occurred, and Denny no longer feared conviction.

Although Denny was basically free, “he was a broken man and he never recovered.” He resigned his positions at the bank and as mayor. Denny remained in Williston and sold real estate until the 1930s, when he lived in Montana and California for short periods of time. He returned to Williston where he died on July 9, 1936.

Olive Alta Wegley

Olive Alta Wegley is the youngest child of Jonathan George Wegley and his wife

She was born on February 2, 1884, in Washington, Ohio and died on August 25, 1960.

Her grave shows her name as Olive A., however, the Ohio Births and Christenings Index (1774-1973) shows her name as Alta Olive Wegley. It’s most likely just a mistake in transcription but I did want to make my readers aware of this.

Olive married her husband Pearl Cloyd Rasor on December 25, 1901, when she was just 17 years old. Together they had at least two children, a son, and a daughter.

  • Herman James (March 21, 1905 – December 13, 1985)
  • Dorothy Miriam (February 25, 1908 – September 8, 1996)

In the 1930 US Census, we learned that her husband ran a grocery store and she worked as a saleswoman in the store (Unpaid worker, member of the family).

When her husband passed away, she remarried (she was 66 at the time). The marriage to her 2nd husband (Charles Trushel) took place on November 9, 1951.

 

Lewis Weighley

Lewis Weigley is the child of John Weigley and Elizabeth W. Croft. He is my first cousin, 5x removed. You may ask why I would care about someone not in my direct line, well quite honestly because sometimes we find documents in side-branches of our family tree that help us prove the identity or dates of those family members in our direct line. Such is the case with Lewis or Louis Weighley.

He married Eve Beeghly (Weighley?) on October 2, 1831.

  • B:16 Feb 1810 in Brothers Valley, Somerset, Pennsylvania, United States
  • D:25 Dec 1885 in Milford, Somerset, Pennsylvania, United States

He is buried in the Pleasant Hill Brethren Cemetery in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Lewis Weigley Grave

He and his wife had quite a few children.

  1. Elizabeth Weighley (1831-1909)
  2. John S. Weighley (1835-1918)
  3. Mary Ann Weighley (1838-1918)
  4. Joseph Weighley (1840-1844)
  5. Sara Weighley (1844-??)
  6. Ezra J. Weighley (EJ) (1846-1913)
  7. William Lewis Weighley (1849-1928)

In the 1850 US census, we get a confirmation of this. We know that Lewis is 39 at the time. He lived with his wife Eve who as 38 and then 6 of his children, the youngest of which was only 1 years old.

The one child not there was Joseph who died when he was only 4 years old (1840-1844).

Lewis Weigley 39
Eve Weigley 38
Elisabeth Weigley 17
John Weigley 14
Mary A Weigley 12
Sarah Weigley 6
Ezra Weigley 3
William Weigley 1

 

  • Here is the death certificate for his youngest child, Ezra who was also known as EJ.

Here is the death certificate for his youngest child, Ezra who was also known as EJ.

Here is the marriage application for John Wegley (son of Lewis). John married Emma when he was 62 and she was 60.

So speaking of documents, what is his name? Lewis or Louis? It looks like it is in fact Lewis. Here, in fact, is his wife’s death certificate to clear up the matter.

John Henry Richardson

John Henry Richardson is the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather, William Alexander Richardson. He is the son of John Durk Richardson.

We know that during the 1880 US Census he was 2 years old, so that means he was about about 1878. This makes him 4 years younger than William Alexander.

This record also says that he was born in Texas, not Tennessee like so many others list.

john henry richardson - 1880

When I corrected that information on my bio is where I was able to find all my information about him.

John Henry Richardson was born on January 12, 1878 in Wise, Texas. We were able to get this information from his World War 1 Draft Registration Card.

John Henry Richardson married Lou Ella Fortner on May 4, 1897 in Smith, Texas.

He and his wife, Ella Lou (aka Lou Ella) Fortner, had quite a few number of children.  During the 1920 census we see that both he and his wife are 43. At the time they list off 7 children, however that’s not even half the story ….

  • Claude
  • Lizzie
  • Hazel
  • Lela
  • Dora
  • Fannie
  • JD
  • Dewie

In all they had at least 16 (maybe 17) children, several of which died young.

  1. Claude T (1896)
  2. Infant Son (possibly twins – Died – 1898)
  3. Anna Richardson (1899)
  4. Kendrick (1901)
  5. James Clifton (1903)
  6. Lizzie (1906)
  7. Jessie Lena (1907)
  8. Elsie (1908)
  9. Hazel Martha (1908)
  10. Infant Daughter (Died – 1910)
  11. Lela Gertrude (1910)
  12. Dora Carolina (1913)
  13. Frances Mae (1915)
  14. Fannie (1916)
  15. Jake D (1918)
  16. Dewie W (1919)

John Henry died at the age of 26 on January 17, 1924, in what today is Waurika, Oklahoma.

Minerva Pearl Wegley

Minerva Pearl Wegley, aka Minnie Pearl was born on March 20, 1887 and died on July 22, 1938.

She was the eldest child of John Wesley Wegley and Helen Elizabeth Swanson.

She was born in Kane Pennsylvania and lived in Pennsylvania her entire life. She died on July 22, 1938 in Kitanning.

Minerva Pearl Wegley Death Certificate

She had high blood pressure and died suddenly at her home, which caused her to have a stroke. She was only 50 years old. The incidence took place at 10:30 in the morning.

This was the exact same thing that her father died of.

When she died, they lived at 127 Hazel Street in Kittanning, PA. This house is still around to this day. It’s a 4 bedroom, 1 bath home with about 2,154 square feet. The home was originally built in 1912 and has a full basement with a detached garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentin Assel

My mother’s grandmother was a lady named Emma Marie, who she loved dearly. It is for this reason I began to look into the maternal side of my family tree.

This led me to Valentin Assel, the first member of his family line to come to America from Germany.

Valentin Assel was born on March 1, 1860 in Essen, Germany. Today it’s a huge city with a population of more than 500,000; making it the 9th largest city in Germany.

Valentin Assel came to America in 1887.

A few years after coming to America, at the age of 30, he met and married Arnstena Wilhelmina Good (Gote?). Together they had at least 7 children.

  • William Paul
  • Michael John
  • Pauline
  • Anna
  • Hilda
  • Emma Marie
  • Emil

On October 01, 1910 Valentin Assel official became a US citizen.

Valentin Assel died on April 05, 1923 in Monessen, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Saint Paul’s Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (find a grave).

 

 

 

 

 

William Alexander Richardson

William Alexander Richardson, my 2nd great-grandfather was born in Tennessee on January 12, 1874. He’s the son of John Durk Richardson.

His father, originally from North Carolina, had moved to Tennesse during his time in the American Civil War. He was in Unit 9 Tennessee Cavalry Company E.

After the war was often he married William’s mother and they began having babies, 6 in all, which is nothing compared to William who would eventually have 10 of his own children.

A few years after William Alexander was born the entire family picked up and moved to Wise, Texas which is where William would spend the rest of his life.

William Alexander Richardson married Ada Mae Sheppard on October 11, 1896, in Wise County, Texas. Together they had at least 10 children who lived.

  1. Rubin Nemon Richardson 1898–1960
  2. Roy Lee Richardson 1900–1977
  3. Bertha Mae Richardson 1902–1991
  4. Henry E Richardson 1904–
  5. Etta Lorene Richardson 1904–1954
  6. Evelyn Nancy Richardson 1906–1954
  7. George Elton Richardson 1908–1976
  8. Sue Odett Richardson 1911–1987
  9. William Dalton Richardson 1913–1971
  10. Lawrence Durk Richardson 1916–1995

In 1918 he was 44 years old and he registered for the draft for WWI. That seemed rather old for me so I decided to do some research on why someone of his age would be required to register for the draft.

The US entered WWI on April 6, 1917. On May 18, 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act authorizing the draft. At first, it was just males from 21 to 30 that were required to register for military service. However later at the request of the War Department, Congress amended the law in August of 1918 to expand the age range to include all men from 18 to 45.

So basically that meant William Alexander fell within the age range for the draft of WWI, albeit just barely.

I don’t seem to find any records to show that he was actually drafted to fight in the war though.

William Alexander WW1 Draft Registration Card

William Alexander Richardson died on October 25, 1971. His death certificate at the time shows us that he was a retired farmer.

You might also notice that on his death certificate it lists his name as William Alex instead of his full name of William Alexander. During his life, he has been known as William Richardson, William Alexander, William Alex,  W.A. Richardson, William A. Richardson, Alexander Richardson, Williams A. Richardson, and A.R. Richardson.

His WW1 voter registration card lists him as William Alexander Richardson, while his death certificate lists him as William Alex. The social security administration lists him as William A. (460-86-8458)

William Alexander Richardson Death Ceritificate 1971

Obituary for William Alexander Richardson

William Alexander Richardson Obit

Final rites were held Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. in the Chapel at Hawkins Funeral home for Mr. W.A. Richardson. Mr. Richardson was born Jan. 12, 1874, died Oct 25, 1971. Mr. Joe Dukin, Church of Christ Minister from Allison, Texas, officiated. Mr. Richardson is survived by four sons and two daughters. L. D. Richardson, Paradise, Texas, Pete Richardson, Paradise Texas, George Richardson, Bridgeport, W. D. Richardson, Waurika, Okla., Sue Bollinger, Burbank, California, Bertha Davidson, Brownsville, Texas, and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the survivors. Interment was in West Side Cemetery, Bridgeport.

william alexander richards headstone

 

Frederick Wegley

Frederick Wegley is my great-grandfather. He was born on August 20, 1887, in Kane, Pennsylvania and died on November 28, 1950, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Frederick Wegley married Tillie Blanch Edwards on February 4, 1920 when he was 32 years old. They married in Huntington, West Virginia. Together they had at least 6 children, including my grandfather,  Raymond Wegley.

  • John Wesley (1923-1982)
  • Betty A (1924-2010)
  • Raymond Edward (1925-1992)
  • Ruth Minerva (1928-?)
  • Dora Mae (1930-1970)
  • Gretta L (1935-?)

Frederick Wegley served in both World War I and in World War II as did his sons John Wesley and Raymond Edward.

Here is his a blurry copy of his WW1 draft registration card which tells us that he is medium height, slender build with light brown hair and light grey eyes.

fred wegley - draft registration card

It also says he was employed as a laborer doing woodworking for a manufacturing company. It also reveals he was in the national guard in the infantry division for 1 year prior to this form being filled out (June 5, 1917) at which time he was 29 years old.

At 54 years old he filled out another draft card to join the fight during WWII. Notice on the document he lied and say he was 52, born in 1889, not his actual year of birth of 1887.

 fred wegley - draft registration card wwII -1 fred wegley - draft registration card wwII -2

These two documents tell us a little more about the man. He was 5 foot 7 1/2. Again we learn he has brown hair and grey eyes and his complexion is described as “ruddy”, as compared to sallow, light, dark, light brown, etc.

This was signed on April 27, 1942. Fred’s eldest son John Wesley would join the war on February 19, 1943, so almost a year later.  Then his youngest son Raymond would join on November 29, 1943 when he was only 17.

So the father lied and said he was younger so he could join the war and fight for his country and his son would lie sand say he was older to do the same.

Fred died in 1950 and was buried in a grave in Okmulgee, Oklahoma where his youngest son was living at the time.

fred wegley grave

His wife Tillie would die in 1984 and would be buried nearby.

tillie wegley

Now here is something interesting … notice his gravestone said his year of birth was 1889. But we know from countless census records he was actually born two years earlier. Well actually now that I examine the records more closely, I don’t know for sure.

  • In the 1900 census it tells us that he was 12 years old at the time and he was born in August of 1887. 1900-12 actually puts him born in about 1888
  • In the 1910 census however he was 21 at the time and it says he was born “about 1889”.
  • In the 1920 census it tells us he was 30 at the time and that means he was born about 1890. During this census he was still living with his parents and was a box maker and a window and glass factory.
  • In the 1930 census it tells us he was 39 years old and that he was born in about 1881.
  • In the 1940 census it tells us he was 50 years old and that he was born about 1890.

I am told that it wasn’t uncommon to estimate things back then when you were for sure. But every time it has something different so I’m not sure what to say about it.

The 1900 census and the WW1 draft registration card says August 1887. So for now we’ll keep it at that.

John Wesley Wegley

John Wesley Wegley was born on June 29, 1858 in Indiana, Pennsylvania and he died on December 15, 1927 in Shade, Somerset, Pennsylvania.

John Wesley Wegley is my 2nd great grandfather

He married Helen Elizabeth Bessie Swanson (who was from Sweden) and together they had at least 8 children.

  • Minerva Pearl
  • Frederick
  • Clarence John Leroy
  • Ruth Leona Victoria
  • Raymond W
  • Howard

 

Here is what we can say for sure. John Wesley Wegley died when he was 69 years old. We know this because we have an actual copy of his death certificate.

john wesley wegley death certificate

It verifies that he died on December 15, 1972 from a cerebral hemorrhage, due to high blood pressure. In other words, he died from a stroke.

The death certificate also shows us that his father was Joseph Wegley and his mother was Eva Berkible.

This is important because when tracking John Wesley Wegley we must remember there is another man at that time also named John W. Wegley who was married to a Sarah Wegley.

Our John W. Wegley was married to Helen Elizabeth Bessie Swanson also known as simply Bessie. During the 1920 John Wesley was 62 and his wife Bessie was 54.

Living with them was Fred (30), Rush (23), Raymond (19), and Howard (17). They were living at the time at 507 Biddle Street in Kane, Pennsylvania. He was working as a Grocer and he owned his home. He was able to both read and write.

By the way the house at 507 Biddle Street still exists to this day. It was originally built in 1890 and today is a 2,258 square foot single family home.

I’m not sure how accurate this record is, but apparently in November of 2013 someone bought the home for $19,000. Looks like it went up for public auction on September 29, 2013. The owner at the time “Erma” had lived there for more than 50 years prior to the sale.

The average house in that area is thought to be worth about $150k and it shows a property tax value of about $64,480 as of 2015.

507 biddle kane pa

507 biddle kane pa-2

The auction listing states the home is a 6-bedroom 2-story home with two kitchens (former 2 apartment), 2 full baths, full basement, detached 2 & 3-car garages. That sounds like a lot for a house that is less than 3k square feet but that’s what it says.

The 1910 US Census has them living at 507 Biddle Street (same place as the 1920 census). This time it says his job was a pumper (oil wells).

John W (50)

Elizabeth (44)

Frederick (21)

Ruth (16)

Clarence (10)

Raymond (8)

Howard (6)

Now here is something interesting about the 1910 and 1920 census records. In theory if someone was 50 when they did the 1910 census then when they did the 1920 census they would be ten years older – 60. Right? Well that isn’t the case here.

In 1910, John was 50 but in the 1920 census he was 62. That’s a 12 year difference. His wife was 44 in during the 1910 census and ten years later, she aged 10 years as you might expect.

  • John W 40 – (50) – 62
  • Elizabeth 34 – (44) – 54

Frederick aged 9 years, Ruth only aged 7 years, Clarence was 10 in the 1910 census but didn’t exist in the 1920 one. Both Raymond and Howard aged 11 years.

  • Frederick (21) – 30
  • Ruth (16) – 23
  • Clarence (10)
  • Raymond (8) – 19
  • Howard (6) – 17

It probably doesn’t mean anything but I did find it interesting nonetheless.

John Wesley was eventually buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Kane, Pennsylvania.

 

Jonathan George Wegley

Jonathan George Wegley was born on September 3, 1836, in Somerset Pennsylvania. He died on March 1, 1892, in Lockington, Shelby County, Ohio. We know this date of death from his gravestone.

Jonathan George Wegley is my 2nd great grand uncle

Jonathan George Wegley married Sarah Circle in Mercer County, Ohio on November 21, 1857, when he was 21 years old. Together they had at least 11 children.

jonathan wegley - sarah cirlce marriage

  • George Wegley (1859 – 1862)
  • James E Wegley (1860 – 1937)
  • Mary C. Wegley (1863 – 1932)
  • Emanuel Wegley (1864 – 1936)
  • Fredrick Wegley (1866 – 1951)
  • Joseph Wegley (1867 – 1946)
  • Eva Jane Wegley (1869 – 1939)
  • infant Wegley (1870 – 1870)
  • Adeline (Sarah) Wegley (1871 – 1948)
  • Daisy May Wegley (1876 – 1940)
  • Olive Alta Wegley (1884 – 1960)

Here is the death certificate for his son Fredrick Wegley. This shows us that we have the right family – Jonathan Wegley and Sarah Circle.

Jonathan George would have one son (Joseph) that would go on to be mayor of Williston, North Dakota and another son who ran a local watering hole or gathering place. Only problem was that it seems the area was “dry” and he was caught or at least accused of selling liquor. He would later be acquitted. Here is the text from the local paper at the time about the incident.

‘Grand Forks Herald’, Grand Forks, North Dakota.  8 Nov 1907

Williston, N. D., Nov. 7 – A warrant has been issued for Fred Wegley, a brother of the mayor, the charge being the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors in what is commonly known as “Wegley’s Pig,” the joint in the lower regions of the concrete building on East Broadway.  The warrant was issued this morning and is now in the hands of the sheriff, who will serve it as soon as the defendant can be found, the understanding being that he has left the city temporarily.

‘Grand Forks Herald’, Grand Forks, North Dakota.  10 June 1909

Williston, N. D., June 9 – Fred Wegley has been acquitted.  The jury in the case was out just three minutes this morning when it returned a verdict of not guilty.  This case has attracted attention for the last year and a half on account of the accused being a brother of Former Mayor Joseph Wegley, who has the reputation of being the man who cleared Williston of blind pigs, and it was asserted that the mayor was protecting his brother and allowing him an exclusive righty to conduct a “pig”.

  The accused was tried three times before justices of the peace and each time found not guilty, and then was indicted by the grand jury, on which indictment he was just found not guilty.

  The outcome of the case convinces Wegley’s friends that the case was only a piece of spite work on the part of those opposed to Mayor Wegley to throw suspicion on the sincerity of his administration.

Here’s a crazy story about how he became mayor in the first place.

Fact: First North Dakota mayor accused of horse rustling

Williston’s first mayor, William Denny, did a lot to make it the state’s fastest-growing city during the first decade of the 20th century, growing from 763 people in 1900 to 3,124 in 1910, a rate of more than 300 percent. Denny was also suspected of being the ringleader of a large horse-rustling organization.
Denny established the first bank in Williston when he arrived in February 1899. He also had a large ranch on which he raised horses and Hereford cattle. He had connections in Montana where large numbers of horses were brought to his ranch and sold to him at $10 to $30 a head. Because northwestern North Dakota was rapidly filling up with homesteaders, Denny was able to sell each of the horses to the settlers for $150. Initially, most Williston residents considered Denny a shrewd businessman.
In June 1904, Denny was elected mayor and went to work to provide electricity and running water for the residents. He ran unopposed for re-election in 1905, and later that year, Denny was arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for being the fence of a large horse-stealing enterprise in Montana. He appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court for a retrial, which was granted to him since key pieces of evidence against him had disappeared. With the major evidence missing, a new trial never occurred, and Denny was set free.
William Henry Denny Jr. was born in New Auburn, Minn., on March 17, 1870, to William Sr. and Marian (Joslyn/Josline) Denny. William Sr. was a gunsmith, and the family moved to the larger town of Glencoe soon after William Jr.’s birth. In 1885, William Jr. attended Anoka Business College and after graduating two years later, “worked at various stores in St. Cloud.” In the fall of 1889, he traveled to Montana and found work as a ranch hand on the Diamond G Ranch, which was owned by J. D. “Dad” Williams. Also working for Williams was “Dutch Henry” Jauch (pronounced Yaw), who later organized “the largest horse stealing operation in eastern Montana.”
Williams found Denny to be trustworthy and asked the youngster to drive horses to central North Dakota to be sold. On his drives, Denny established friendships in Benson County, and he developed a romantic interest in Kate Huffnail, a school teacher in Minnewaukan. He moved to Minnewaukan in 1897 and, in July, went to work for the Benson County State Bank. After working for a couple of years, learning how to operate a bank, Denny began exploring new opportunities. Seeing that the Great Northern Railway had reached Williston in 1898 and that it was about to establish branch lines from there to towns in the northwestern part of the state, he knew that settlers were soon to follow. Williston did not have a bank, and the town was ideally located, near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. In 1898, Denny contacted Charles Hilton Davidson, a wealthy Canadian real estate dealer, and Thomas L. Beisaker, a Fessenden banker, who also owned a number of other banks in North Dakota and Minnesota, and the two men agreed to finance the establishment of a bank in Williston. When the Williams County State Bank opened on Feb. 19, 1899, Denny was named cashier and manager. Feeling financially secure, he married Kate on March 8. From the money Denny was making at the bank, he began purchasing land, between Williston and the Montana border, on which to raise cattle and horses. His plan was to buy horses brought in from Montana and sell them to the homesteaders who were coming into northwestern North Dakota. Denny also began selling real estate and, in 1903, established the town of Trenton on his property. On Feb. 3, 1904, Williston was incorporated as a city, and four months later, the newly elected councilmen chose Denny as mayor. According to Joseph Wegley, Denny’s successor as mayor, Williston was a wild-west town. Wegley wrote, “There were eleven saloons or blind pigs on Main Street and lots of them in the alleys … blind pigs prevailed and ruled the city.” Wegley also pointed out that Denny was in support of the saloons. In 1905, Denny was re-elected, and he sent out bid proposals for the construction of city waterworks and an electrical plant. Besides serving as mayor, he also was kept busy buying and selling horses. On Oct. 26, law officers from Montana went to Denny’s ranch and discovered stolen horses. Denny and Art McGahey, the man who delivered the stolen horses, were arrested. Denny’s lawyers pointed out that the lawmen had presented insufficient evidence, and the arrest was rescinded. Suspicion that Denny was the fence and possibly the kingpin of a large horse-rustling organization surfaced in September when Jack Teal, a Montana lawman, and George Hall, the stock inspector for the Montana Stockmen’s Association, arrested a horse thief. When the thief tried to escape, he was shot and killed. Teal and Hall went through the dead man’s belongings and discovered a letter that named Denny as the “chief fence” for stolen horses. This information was corroborated by George Miller, a saloon owner whose establishment had recently been robbed by horse thieves. He told Hall and Sheriff William Griffith about an incident in which Tom Ryan, who had injured his writing hand, had Miller write a letter to Denny. “Ryan was the major rustler in eastern Montana now that Jauch had disappeared.” The letter stated that Ryan was having McGahey deliver horses to Denny. Miller agreed to work with the lawmen. To make certain that the horses had been delivered, he went to the mayor’s ranch, posing as Ryan’s friend. Denny confirmed to Miller that the horses had arrived and had been sold. Denny also told Miller to tell Ryan to stop visiting his bank because “Montana authorities were breathing down his neck.” Armed with this additional evidence, law officials returned to Denny’s ranch in mid-November to arrest him, but he was gone. He had been tipped off and fled to Benson County. The lawmen located Denny in Churchs Ferry and arrested him, but they were unable to take him into custody because the district judge, John Cowan, issued a habeas corpus decree declaring Denny needed to appear in court before he could be detained. A trial was scheduled for August 1906, but Montana authorities did not believe justice would be served. In December 1905, Montana’s governor, Joseph Toole, made a request to Elmore Sarles, governor of North Dakota, that Denny be extradited, and Sarles agreed. However, Denny’s lawyers were able to get the extradition order rescinded. At his trial on Aug. 9, 1906, Denny was found guilty of selling stolen horses and sentenced to three years in prison. However, Denny’s lawyers appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court for a retrial. The letters showing Denny’s involvement disappeared, before the court met on Oct. 11, 1908, and the court ordered a retrial. Since the prosecution no longer had their most important evidence, a new trial never occurred, and Denny no longer feared conviction. Although Denny was basically free, “he was a broken man and he never recovered.” He resigned his positions at the bank and as mayor. Denny remained in Williston and sold real estate until the 1930s, when he lived in Montana and California for short periods of time. He returned to Williston where he died on July 9, 1936.