Saturday, February 14, 2015

52 Ancestors #7: Love Gone Wrong?

Ancestor Name: Hazel Elizabeth (WENDELL) Criger Reed (1917-2002)

Hazel Elizabeth Wendell was my first cousin once removed. Her mother, Hilda Helen (Schalin) Wendell, was my maternal grandmother's older sister. Hazel was born on 22 March 1917 in Lima, Montana. She was a twin; her sister was Helen Myrtle Wendell. Her father was a machinist for Northern Pacific Railway, and sometime between 1920 and 1930 the family moved to Livingston Park, Montana. Hazel lived in Livingston Park for most of the remainder of her life. It is a picturesque town on the Yellow river that began as a trading post.

At the age of 19 Hazel married Philander "Phil" Warren Criger. His family had also moved to Livingston Park between 1920 and 1930 and his father worked in the railroad shops.

In 1937 Phil worked as a warehouse man for Milling Co. In 1940 he was a foreman at the same company. The 1954 city directory indicates Phil was not working and Hazel had taken a job as a nurse's aide at Lott Hospital. In 1956 Phil was a wood worker and Hazel was not working. During their marriage they had two sons.

Hazel and Phil Criger with one of their sons; photograph courtesy of member Scott Goddard

The couple divorced sometime in early 1960 and on 14 May 1960 an event that must have been tragic for Phil's family and sons occurred.

Montana Standard, 17 May 1960; image

Livingston Gunshot Death is Probed
LIVINGSTON (AP) - Investigation continued Monday into the gunshot death of Phil Criger, 46, Livingston, who was found outside his automobile at a firing range three miles east of Livingston.

Coroner Wesley Cloyd said foul play does not appear to be involved.

Critter's body was found about 5 p.m. Saturday. A .32 caliber Winchester special model 1894 rifle was on the front seat, pointed in the chest.

A native of Jones, Michigan, Criger had resided in Livingston most of his life. For a time he managed a grain elevator at Wilsall. Lately, he had been operating a delivery truck in Livingston.

Survivors include two sons, two brothers, and two sisters.

Marriages are unique things. And I often wonder what went wrong with Phil and Hazel's. Was it the reason he killed himself a few short months after the divorce?

Hazel married Gilbert Allen Reed on 16 January 1963. She moved near Brewster where the couple lived close to Gilbert's family. After he died in 1992, Hazel returned to Livingston. She died on 11 October 2002.

I have always been interested this part of my mother's family. Mom met her Aunt Hilda when she and her parents drove across the country from Maryland to Montana and on to Alberta, Canada, in 1949. It was the first time my grandmother had seen her siblings in over 50 years. Hilda also named Hazel and Helen's older sister, Albertine Schalene, and Schalene is my given name in honor of my maternal grandmother. Albertine married Phil Criger's older brother and that happened my my family, as well. My Dad and his brother married sisters!

Johannes "John" and Hilda Helen (Schalin)
Wendell in 1949, Hazel's parents; photograph
from my personal collection

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Love.

Hazel Elizabeth and her twin Helen Myrtle Wendell were born on 22 March 1917 in Lima, Montana, to Johannes "John" and Hilda Helen (Schalin) Wendell. John was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and immigrated to Wyoming about 1891 at the age of 18. Hilda was born in the Volhynia region of what was then Russia (now Ukraine) and immigrated to Alberta, Canada, in 1893 at the age of 4. The twins were the youngest of four children. Hazel graduated from Park County High School in 1935 and married Philander "Phil" Warren Criger the next year. They had two sons before divorcing in 1960. A few months after the divorce Phil committed suicide. Hazel married Gilbert Allen Reed in 1963. Allen had been married previously to Veta Rue Hodges. He died in 1992 and was buried at the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman, Montana. Hazel died on 11 October 2002 in Livingston Park, Montana. Her body was cremated.

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