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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Discovering an Inventor in the Graveyard : Following a Paranormal Hunch

A few years ago, I volunteered, along with two assistants, to attempt to index and photograph a rather large cemetery in the southern half of Oak Brook, Illinois, called Bronswood.  I noticed that the county genealogical society had completed this task for most of the cemeteries of the region, except this one. Why had no one indexed this cemetery?  Maybe it was because this cemetery is still open and expanding. Or, maybe it was because the cemetery already had over 10,000 "residents", and was still growing.  Whatever the reason, I had decided that no task was too big for me. Hahahahaha.  It took us over 2 years to index and photograph what we could, which included 10,300 burials at that time.  The cemetery has since been sold, and is ever expanding again.  I had an index posted on the Oak Brook Historical Society website,, along with all of it's mistakes and inadequate information...another task to take care of at a later date.  Currently, I am adding my photos for these interments to Find a Grave,

Not too many people know that on occasion, I have a sixth sense about it a sort of paranormal intuition.  When in cemeteries, I get a tapping on my shoulder...a hunch...a distraction...a calling from some gravestones.  I think that it is someone who has passed on, trying to get my attention to ask me to stay for a while and talk with them. I know, creepy, right?  There are those persons who have a story to tell, and they want me to listen.  So, I do.

Such was the case when I was indexing section H in this cemetery.  I came upon a memorial stone dedicated to Mr. Adolph Rebernak.  This name might not mean much to you, but it will when I tell you about Adolph.  Have you ever used a cleaning product named Endust?  What about using a squeeze sponge mop made by O'Cedar?  Of course you have, haven't you?

Bronswood Cemetery, Section H Lot 76

Adolph Rebernak was the inventor of  the squeeze sponge mop, Dri-Glo and Endust.  Now, you might be thinking, "this gal is really nuts" and that is your right.  But read on and learn a bit about this man who wanted me to listen to his story.

Mr. Rebernak passed on February 7, 1990.  He had a rather nice obit written about him.  Here is what I found in the Chicago Tribune :

As you can see, this guy had quite the background in education and profession.  Notice that it mentions his patent for the sponge mop that was manufactured by O'Cedar Corporation.  Here is more information about this mop and it's patent :

patent for the foldable compression mop

patent drawing for the foldable compression mop by A. Rebernak
Mr. Rebernak did not stop there.  No way.  He decided to make some revisions to his mop.  He made it an angular sponge mop.  Probably easier to handle for the person using the mop and less taxing on the back.  Here is the patent information for this new, and improved mop :
information found at

Patent 3,038,188 has a file of drawings regarding the sponge mop invented by Mr. Rebernak :

I never knew it took this much technology and thought to come up with such an idea.  Remember the O'Cedar commercial jingle....O'Cedar makes your life easier?  Well now you can thank Mr. Rebernak each time you grab a sponge mop and put it to use. Just think of how many lives he made "easier" by inventing this mop, along with the cleaning products.  I find myself singing the jingle, "O'Cedar makes your life easier", each time I grab a mop, and think of Mr. Rebernak.

Now, who else from this cemetery will want to tell their story to me?  I'll let you know....


A little more information about the O'Cedar Corporation, taken from it's website, :

Our History

The Channell Chemical Company started as a manufacturer of waxes and wood polishes, which were sold door to door in the early 1900s. One of the main ingredients in the polish was cedar leaf oil, which led to the product being called “O-Cedar Polish.” As the company expanded, so did the brand awareness of O-Cedar, and the name just stuck!

O-Cedar Makes Your Life Easier!®

We’ve dedicated our 100-year history to taking the “work” out of housework with a constant focus on innovation. We were the first to produce a self-wringing mop, to market the first angle broom, and to introduce the first spray mop to offer both disposable and machine washable microfiber pads! 
Plus, each and every one of our products is designed to help you get the job done quickly, easily and with confidence.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Father's Life Story : What Can On-line Research Tell Me That I Didn't Know About Him

I knew my Father, Frank J. Bognar, Jr.,  for almost 46 years before he passed away in the early Spring of 2002.  He was a major influence in my life.  Thinking that I knew everything about him, I decided  to find further information about him on the Internet.

As with most people searching for their heritage, I did a very basic and wide search on at .  The first two results were the 1930 and the 1940 U.S. Census.

No new or surprising information was revealed from these two census listings.  In 1930, the home address was mentioned as 1940 Burd Avenue.  In the 1940 census, the home address was listed at 812 Salisbury Street. Neither home is currently standing.  

Next, I searched on Fold3 at .  His name appeared in the WWII U. S. Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949.  He was aboard the U.S.S. Takanis Bay CVE89.  This page shows the date of his transfer from the escort carrier to the USN Hospital in Seattle, Washington,  This is something that I did not know...just having his date of transfer from ship to hospital is something that I can add to my research, and reference that date when searching for his medical records while in the U.S. Navy. He is listed on line 7, as a Machinist Mate 2nd Class, along with his service number

Fold3 has the muster rolls for the U.S.S. Takanis Bay CVE89 from 1944 through 1946.  Dad's name appears on each muster prior to his transfer to the USN hospital.  

Next, I used Mocavo at , a free website for researching genealogy.  They show the Social Security Death Index listing for my Father.  They also mention that there is a memorial listing for him on Find A Grave at . No new information for me here.

Family Search at  also has the same SSDI and 1940 Census return that the previous websites have in their search results.

My Heritage at www.myheritage,com  repeats the previous results : 1930 and 1940 U. S. Census returns, Find A Grave memorial, and SSDI listing.

GenealogyBank at has the obituary for my Dad from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 2 and 4, 2002 issues.  I do have several copies of this in my family records.

I turned to the Veterans Administration Grave Locator at, and found that Dad was listed correctly with their database, which simply repeats what was in the search results from previous websites.

In addition, the St. Louis Archdiocese has a grave location search engine that helps to find the location of each burial in the cemeteries of the archdiocese, and the ability to reveal what persons share the same burial plot as the deceased.  Here, both of my parents are listed being interred in Section 17A Lot 0129, along with their dates of burial.  

Both People Finders at and People Smart at have correctly listed Dad as being deceased, and both mention my Mother as being related, as well as his last location of residence.

World Vital Records at shows a database search result from their public records index.  Showing the last three addresses where my Dad lived, it also includes phone numbers, and naming my Mother as his relative. Of course, there is no new information for me here.

Tribal Pages at doesn't result in any new information on my Dad's life, however, it does show a listing for my grandfather, Frank Bognar, Sr., and his first wife, Anna Springer.  This is a new avenue for my research into that family lineage. But that is for another time.

Conclusion  for now :  The transfer date of my Father from the U.S.S. Takanis Bay to the USN hospital in Seattle, Washington, has been the only new piece of information that I have found during this attempt to update my Dad's story.

Ancestry and it's affiliates are having some server problems this week.  Unfortunately, it has interrupted my on-line searches with additional websites that I wanted to feature here.  There might be a lack of research and browsing this week due to this problem.  With a little luck on their end, this could be resolved shortly.  In the meantime, making good use of other history sources and libraries may prove to be beneficial.  Happy searching to all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Life of an Inventor : Lavonious Kenworthy Wynn, OR Don't Believe Every Family Story to be Correct

In some families, there is usually a child that is named for an ancestor; be it a parent, grandparent, great grandparent, or other person that family wished to remember and honor.  My late father-in-law was named Kenworthy Henry Reif.  I knew that his grandfather was Henry Jacob Reif, so there is the repeated "Henry".  But, I did not know where "Kenworthy" had it's origin...was there someone of that name in the family?

After months of working on my husband's family history, I decided to do what I do best....think outside of the box, and work outside of the crate.  This type of research never fails me.  I always come up with something, and indeed, this time I uncovered someone with the name of Kenworthy.

I knew that great grandmother Eliza Hessler Reif had a sister, Emma.  But that was as far as I had gotten into the Hessler family.  Searching  the Illinois State Marriage Index Database, I came across the marriage of Lavonious K. Wynn - Emma Hessler in 1888.  Hmmm.  And the marriage occurred in northern Illinois, in Whiteside County.  Hmmm.  Well, this certainly looks like it could be interesting.  Now I have yet another name to research. But, this wasn't just any person.  It was THE person that I needed to follow through the many records available on-line.

Sterling Gazette, 1888

Taking this information, I searched on for Mr. Wynn.  The first result came from the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947.
Lavonious Wynn was born in Ohio, and died and was buried in Sterling, Illinois.  He was a widower in 1946 at the time of his death.  His occupation is listed as President of a Laundry Company.  This is little more information than I had before, but what I found on the rest of the page made me jump.  There were a few suggested records that thought might match this gentleman :

Do you see what I see?  L. KENWORTHY Wynn...... Here is the Kenworthy in this family that I was looking for, listed in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census.  I clicked the link, and BINGO, Lavonious Kenworthy Wynn was married to Emma, living in Sterling, Illinois.

Apparently, my father-in-law was named after his great uncle, brother-in-law of his grandmother, Eliza Hessler Reif.  He must have been an important person in the family to be honored over everyone else in the family when it came to naming my father-in-law.  Now that I found him, I needed to discover what made him so special.  Back to the list of on-line databases that I frequent, I diligently searched for Mr. Wynn.

Lavonious was too young to serve in the military in the Civil War, but he may have served in later years. I searched to uncover more data results.There were no military records, but he was listed in a Cleveland directory of 1880, salesman for F. Bassett Company.  Mr. Wynn did appear in city directories of Des Moines, Iowa from 1892 to 1904.  He resided at The Iliad Hotel, which is no longer standing.

In addition, the name of  L. K. Wynn in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, in the 1914 September 7 edition, page 13, volume 38, number 113.  A full page is dedicated to the proof of business prosperity in America, with highlighted comments by leading business men in the United States.

My appears Mr. Wynn was a business owner in Sterling, Illinois in 1914...Black Silk Stove Polish Works.  More to research.  How did he get from being in Des Moines in 1904 to Sterling in 1914 as a business owner?

Newspapers are my favorite resource for researching into past lives.  I usually find very interesting information that is not noted in vital records.,, and are my favorite websites for newspaper research.  There are so many others, far too many to name.  For ephemera, I search  Additional searching may include and InternetArchives at

According to a 1963 obit of a nephew of L. K. Wynn, Lewis Wynn,  brother of L. K. invented the polish, but L. K. operated the company, as he had much more experience in sales and marketing. Lewis Wynn passed away of cancer at his home in October of 1904.

Many ads for the Black Silk Stove Polish product were found in so many newspapers.  Here are a few from 1910 posted in the Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Bemidji, Minnesota :

The trademark for the Black Silk Stove Polish was first used on October 9, 1909.  On November 23, 1909 a U. S. Federal Trademark registration was filed for the logo pictured here :

 trademark serial number of 71046083,  currently expired
Note the trademark had been renewed in 1950, as Mr. Wynn passed away in 1946.  Mr. Prescott took over the Black Silk Stove Polish Works in Sterling, Illinois. This trademark became expired on November 3, 1992.

In the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1903, Mr. Wynn is listed as having applied for a patent on a cabinet : 

 Friday, January 1, 1904  

Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.4607;  

A patent application was noted in for Mr. Wynn.  It included an image, dated January 25, 1927, patent number 1,615,319,  of the container product sketch which was submitted for the patent : 

An article from  the Rockford Daily Gazette featured L. K. Wynn and his Black Silk Polish :

Date: Saturday, September 23, 1911  

Paper: Daily Register Gazette (Rockford, IL)  

Page: 11

In other articles, Mr. Wynn was listed as a member of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Elks Association in 1916. The Sterling Illinois Industrial Association, organized in 1907, selected L. K. Wynn as chairman of the committee on Home and Foreign Industries. 

My husband had repeated a story to me, to the best of his recollection, years ago.  It was something about a grandfather or great grandfather who had invented a "shoe black", or black shoe polish, and that a patent had been obtained for the product.  I had dabbled a bit into his ancestors' lives, and found that there were a few German shoemakers, German carpenters, German house painters and German farmers. But, I found no record of a patent for black shoe polish with a connection to this family.

I guess the story became skewed, and the black shoe polish was actually Black Silk Stove Polish.  And, it was not invented by Lavonious Kenworthy Wynn, a great uncle....not a great grandfather, but his brother, Lewis Wynn.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting story, to say the least.