Two immigrant families landed in the same Indiana county after the Civil War. Their descendants would meet and marry nearly eighty years later. While court and church records document the families lived just miles apart, we have no proof they knew each other, merely that they occupied the same space.
Andrew H. McVay came to Indiana from Ohio in 1876. His father William McVay had fought with the Yankees in an Ohio regimen. A cousin of my father’s (Adrian McVay) has William’s fife that he played in the Civil War, though we have no official provenance about it. William probably had PSTD before we knew what it was, and his life ended unhappily.
His son Andrew became a prominent resident with nine sons, including William McVay, who was my grandfather. Andrew was a well-respected farmer and his sons built their own farms and families in Michigan and central Indiana.
The photograph above was taken in 1918 at Andrew’s family’s reunion. My grandfather, William, is third from the right in the back row, holding one of my aunts. My grandmother, Myrtle Jenny Wilburn, who was slightly taller than her husband is second from right. That was the year my grandparents lost a daughter. I don’t know if Maxine is the baby in the picture. I think the little girl second to the right in the front row is my Aunt Ruth Roller, which means the baby is probably my Aunt Loda Finks (not their sister, Maxine McVay).
My grandfather would marry in 1910 and have six children. His youngest child, William, is my father. He raised the family in Carroll County, Indiana.
The elder William died of heart disease in the 1930s when my father was a little boy. Carrying on the family tradition, my parents named my brother Andrew William and his son carry the middle name of Andrew.
My father and several of his cousins returned to attend church several years ago at the same Baptist church where their grandparents attended, more than ninety five years later.
My great-great grandfather on my mother’s side, Georg Enz, came from Germany to the west side of this same county, about twenty or thirty miles from where Andrew McVay moved. We have more information on Georg; we know he was a artisan in Germany. We have something called a “wunderbook” that outlines his nomadic travels in Germany for his work. The family name is shared with a river in the Black Forest region. In the 1970s, my great uncle Walter Enz visited the area and found people with the same name.
Georg Enz’s confirmation certificate (shown at right) is from a Lutheran Church in Reynold, Indiana, though you can see it is still in German.
The family photograph shown below was taken of the Georg Enz family in the 1890s (when they still lived in Indiana). My great-grandfather, Charles Enz, is the tallest of the boys and is third from the left. One of his brothers, Gottlieb Enz, would move to Oklahoma where he become a banker and was featured in Life magazine as one of America’s Millionaires in the 1930s.
Great-Grandfather Charles Enz’ Certificate of Confirmation is shown below. Again in German, and also from Reynolds, Indiana. The scan doesn’t do it justice. The printing on both of these certificates is incredible, extremely detailed and a treasure. Thanks to my cousin Ahmet Argon, son of Donna Enz Argon, for providing the scans.
The next photograph shows Georg’s family at their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Charles is seated next to his father in the front row.
Georg owned property on the western side of the county, an area that is among the best farm land in Indiana. Flat and rich, Georg’s property was known in family lore as “the ranch.” William owned a small farm on the east end of the county where land is not quite as good.
A family legend exists about Georg’s arrival in America. It is said that he saw Lincoln’s funeral procession pass through his town in 1865. Any good Lincoln scholar knows that Lincoln was embalmed with the Super Sauce and his funeral train passed through many areas.
In reality, family records show that Georg was probably still in Germany at that time. We know he lived above the train station in Reynolds, and suspect that though it was the same train station where the Lincoln funeral train passed though, the story was amplified and located Georg on the scene on the same day.
In 1904, Georg sold the ranch and moved to western Ohio where the farm property is just as good. The family story is that when taxes got to a dollar an acre, he said, “Enough” and sold out for Ohio.
His son Charles was my great-grandfather; his son Carl Enz was born in 1899 at the ranch but grew up in Ohio. Charles set up a real estate company in nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana, where my grandfather met my grandmother. In the 1930s, my great-grandfather Charles helped my grandmother’s family save the family farm in the Great Depression.
William and my grandmother “set up housekeeping” on the east side of White County but soon moved into neighboring Carroll County (as mentioned earlier) where my father was born.
This photograph to the left was taken most likely in the late 1920s before my father was born. My grandparents would sell their good farm at the depths of the Great Depression and move to a poorer farm. On his deathbed, my grandfather William made my grandmother promise “to keep the farm for her boys.” She struggled with her teenaged daughter and two young sons until 1946 when other circumstances forced a move to a nearby town. Much of that time, they did not have electricity which necessitated hand pumping water and made for cold nights in winter.
How then did these two pioneer families of White County link?
My mother Marilyn Enx McVay grew up on her mother’s family farm near Fort Wayne, and my father William McVay got his first full-time teaching job in the township school three miles from the farm. As the local agriculture teacher, my father was encouraged by a college mentor to develop an advisory board of distinguished Washington Township farmers.
The first one suggested was my grandfather, who at the time owned a large herd of Angus cattle and owned acreage in that region and in Ohio.
When young William approached the house on that warm Indiana summer evening, he found Charles’ son Carl Enz in the yard.
Carl said, “Come and meet my daughter, she’s a senior at Indiana University.”
The rest is my history.
My Holy Baptism day in August 1957 with my parents at the family farm (saved by my great-grandfather Charles in the Great Depression). My father bought this new 1957 pink Chevrolet on the day I was born. It was his first new car. He says he would have gotten a blue one if I had been a boy.