Howard Wegley

Howard Wegley was born on April 26, 1903, in Kane, Pennsylvania. He was my great-granduncle.

Howard J. Wegley died at the age of 33 from a fatal bout of pneumonia. His date of death was January 17, 1937. You’ll see in his obituary which was posted on January 18th that it said he died “yesterday” making his death the 17th. This was printed in The Kane Republican, on page six.

We also know his date of death from his death certificate.

It was from this that we learned at the time of his death he lived at 22 Mission East Parkway, in Pittsburgh, PA. We also know that he first reported having symptoms on January 10th and admitted for care on January 14th. He died a few days later on January 17, 1937, at 12:50 am at Allegheny General Hospital.

His obituary says he was survived by his wife but his death certificate says he was divorce. His wife was Olive Rush Hooks. She would go on to remarry in 1948 – a man by the name of William Macaluso.

Howard Wegley and Olive Rush Hooks were married on. They had one child together, a boy named Leroy G. Wegley. He was born on September 16, 1930 (he died on June 19, 2014).

Howard Wegley was sentenced on March 11, 1935, to the Allegheny County Workhouse (Prisoner # 39227.

The Allegheny County Workhouse was a prison that was located adjacent to the town of Blawnox, Pennsylvania. Its full name was “Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum”. The first inmates were received in 1869, and the facility closed in 1971. The prison housed mostly inmates convicted of minor offenses. Many of those prisoners maintained a farm of about 1100 acres (445 ha), which contained apple orchards as well as many other crops and many different types of farm animals.

It was in this record we learned a little more about what Howard looked like.  He was 5’7″, and weighed 113 pounds when he entered and 122 when he left.

I’m not quite sure what crime he was convicted of. It’s listed (see image below) but I can’t read what the word is.

Maybe you’ll have better luck. I’ve included his crime listed below next to the others, to give you some sort of context.

 

Orville Jack Wegley

Orville Wegley (went by Jack) was born on October 26, 1920 and he died on July 4, 1995. He was born and died in Williston, North Dakota where he and his family lived all of their lives and his father Joseph Wegley served as the town’s mayor.

He is the youngest child of Joseph Wegley and Tena (Olson) Wegley.

Orville (Jack) Wegley served in the United States Army from June 2, 1939, to April 10, 1944. This means he served during World War II which took place from Sep 1, 1939 – Sep 2, 1945.

On February 10, 1941, he shows to have enlisted in the National Guard in the infantry branch. I’m not sure how that works since at the time he was already in the Army.

As soon as he was discharged from the military he married Nadine Melland on May 29, 1944.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elsie Jane Hoag

My grandmother Elsie Jane Hoag was born on June 22, 1927, in Monessen, Pennsylvania. She died on April 26, 2018, at the age of 90 in Houston, Texas where she had been living with her eldest daughter since 2016.

  • Father: Robert Thomas Hoag (1900-1961)
  • Mother: Emma Marie Assel (1905-1988)

Elsie Jane Hoag married Raymond Wegley on June 5, 1948, in Pennsylvania.  They remained married until his death on December 4, 1992. She would never again marry. She remained his devoted widow until her death some 26 years later.

Together they had 4 children and 12 grandchildren.

  • Thomas Eugene (June 13, 1949)
  • Karen Marie (January 26, 1951)
  • Raymond Junior (December 11, 1952)
  • Robert Thomas (September 27, 1954)

Wegley Family History

Raymond Edward Wegley

My grandfather, Raymond Edward Wegley was born on December 15, 1925 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He died on December 4, 1992, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, just before his 67th birthday.

Raymond Wegley Birth Certificate

My grandfather fought in World War II in the US Navy. He served on the USS Earl K. Olsen.

Grandpa Wegley NAVY WWIIUSS Earl K. Olsen

He joined the war on November 29, 1943, at the age of 17 and was officially discharged on April 28, 1946.

His brother John W. Wegley entered service the month before on February 19, 1943. But he went into the army. Why my grandfather chose the Navy instead of the army like his brother, I don’t know.

PA1-0418

He was a Sergeant First Class and was awarded several medals for his service to his country.

Navy Medals

Penn Veteran Compensation Application WWII Raymond Wegley

Two years after he got out of the military he married my grandmother, Elsie Jane Hoag on June 5, 1948, in Pennsylvania. Together they would have 4 children, three boys and only one girl (my mother).

elsie and ray

  • Thomas Eugene (June 13, 1949)
  • Karen Marie (January 26, 1951)
  • Raymond Junior (December 11, 1952)
  • Robert Thomas (September 27, 1954)

My grandfather Raymond retired from Bartlett Collins glass factory in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and this photo was taken on his last day of work in April of 1989.

ray retirement

Just 3 years later he would die in his sleep of a heart attack on December 4, 1992.

Raymond Wegley Death Certificate

He was buried in Sapulpa, Oklahoma at the Green Hill Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Wegley Family History

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.

Frederick Wegley marriage announcement to Tillie Wegley

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 a blurry copy of his WW1 draft registration card which tells us that he is of 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.

Joseph William Wegley

Joseph William Wegley was born on October 14, 1802 in Brothersvalley, Pennsylvania and he died in June of 1880 in McKean, Pennsylvania. Joseph William is the first recorded use of the Wegley spelling of our family name and that’s what makes him special. We can say he is, in fact, the first “Wegley”.

Joseph William Wegley-1850

During the 1850 US Census, we get the first piece of valuable information. It shows Joseph and Eve along with 7 of their children.

When you have a person whose family is so big, you can start using historical records of all of their children, to help you piece together his life. Such is the case of Joseph William Wegley and his wife Eve.

Their daughter, for example, Mary Amanda has a death certificate that gives us some valuable information.

Mary Amanda died when she was 80 years old, but it also shows us that her birthday was July 30, 1847, in Somerset, PA. It also tells us that her parents were, in fact, Joseph and Eve.

Joseph William married Eve Berkebile in 1831 or 1832 when he was 30 years old and together they had a whole mess of children. I question the date of birth for Theresa by the way.

    • Theresa (1831-?)

 

  • Jonathan S (1835-1918)
  • Jonathan George (1836)
  • Josiah (1837-1930)
  • Jonathan (1837-1907)
  • Susanna (1841-1920)
  • Frederick (1843-1889)
  • Adeline (1845-1893)
  • Mary Amanda (1847-1926)
  • Austin (1851-1916)
  • John Wesley (1858-1927)