Death of the Shane Brothers

This evening I have a post for you about the Shane brothers….this would be my grandfather Robert Nolan Shane and his brother John.  They died just 12 days apart in 1918 and this article appeared in the Monticello Express, April 18, 1918:

Death of the Shane Brothers

The older Settlers, those who lived in this vicinity, twenty years or more, will remember the Shane family, which lived five miles north of Monticello.  Two of the sons,  Robert N. Shane and John Shane, died within twelve days of each other, last February.  This information we get from W.H. Samels, of Minneapolis who visited the family of Robert N. Shane, one of the deceased, at Portland, Oregon, a short time ago.

Robert N. Shane, who was 55 years of age, died February 18th at Portland.  He was born on the Shane homestead, north of Monticello, and lived there 36 years, when he moved to Minneapolis, about 19 years ago.  After living  in Minneapolis 9 years, he moved to Portland, Oregon, which place was his home for 10 years.  He is survived by his widow, Susie Samels Shane, and one son, Frank L. Shane; also one brother, James Shane, and three sisters, Mary, Nancy and Frances.  His funeral was held at the St. Francis Catholic church, at Portland and interment was made at Mt. Calvary cemetery.

On the 4th of February, twelve days before his death, his brother John Shane died at Portland, at the age of 36 years.  He lived on the  Shane homestead for 21 years, and the rest of his life was spent at Portland.  As we understand it, he was not married but is survived by the brother and the sisters named above.

Note:  According to the death certificates, Robert Shane died of Pernicious Anemia and John of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.


Source:  Monticello Express, April 18, 1918. Digital copy, courtesy of the Monticello Public Library data base.

November 12, 2012, Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, All rights reserved.

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Robert Arbuckle Handwriting Analysis

In the fall of 2009 I heard a presentation on the “Genealogy Gems Podcast” that had to do with handwriting analysis.  The podcast host, Lisa Louise Cooke was interviewing Paula Sassi,  Certified Master Graphologist and I found the presentation very, very intriguing.  After the broadcast I picked out a few of Mr. Ed’s and my more interesting ancestors and asked Paula to do an analysis.  Robert Arbuckle was one of the lucky ancestors to have his signature analyzed.

Here’s Paula’s analysis:

The following handwriting analysis is based upon the signature of …….Robert Arbuckle.  The signature represents the public self image of the writer or how he wants to project himself to the outside world.

Robert Arbuckle’s signature indicates that he was a strong willed, confident individual.  His health may have been deteriorating at the time of this signing,* but he still had the strength and gumption to move forward.  He appears to be a true Scotsman with a somewhat frugal and cantankerous nature.  The height and loop in  his t-cross shows that he had a strong sense of pride and responsibility and also could be quite persistent in his thought process.  If he made up his mind about something, it was probably hard to get him to change.  At the time of this signing, he may have been feeling a bit detached from his family.  Since this document is to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to his homeland, he may have been somewhat torn in his decision.  As with many immigrants, he came looking for a better life, but still felt attached to his roots.  It looks like he signed below the line of writing which can indicate depression and also a tendency to chart his own course.  The signature then rises and shows that he could also “pull himself up by his bootstraps” and continue in a positive manner.

From these indicators, we can infer that he was a confident, hardworking individual who held tightly to his own ideas and beliefs.  He may even have enjoyed music or singing to himself as a way of relieving tension and stress.  He had a streak of rebelliousness in him and a strong sense of responsibility.

* Signed in 1884, Robert would have been about 63 years old.

Note:  Robert Arbuckle’s signature can be seen here:  Robert Arbuckle Naturalization

Note:  In a subsequent email discussion with Paula, I explained that Robert had committed suicide and it was her feeling that he might never have really reconciled himself to life away from Scotland.


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, WA, 02/17/2012  All Rights Reserved

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Robert Arbuckle Naturalization

Robert Arbuckle and his family emigrated from Scotland to Canada and eventually to Minnesota.  Here’s a copy of his Naturalization Certificate, very special since it carries Robert’s signature.

Naturalization Certificate – Robert Arbuckle


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, WA 02/17/2012, All Rights Reserved

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The Grave of Robert Arbuckle and Jean McNiven

Good Evening,

Robert Arbuckle and Jean McNiven Arbuckle are buried in Wadena City Cemetery, Wadena Minnesota.  I was able to get some pictures of the graves one sunny day a few years ago…. there were challenges but I’ll explain in a minute.  First the grave marker:

 The monument has an inscription for Jane on one side and Robert on the other.

 Jane’s inscription reads:

Jane Arbuckle, wife of R. Arbuckle, died  June 20, 1890 age 62 years, nine months.

 A Loved Mother at Rest

The inscription for Robert was very difficult to read and my sister and I spent considerable time looking at the grave marker from every possible angle. It was only after we had given up and started toward our car that we turned back to see the sun shining just so that we could clearly read the inscription.

Robert’s inscription reads:

Robert Arbuckle, Died Feb. 27, 1895, aged 73 years & 6 Mos.

Take comfort Christians

When Your Friends in Jesus

Fall Asleep.  Their better

Being never ends,

Why then dejected weep 

Such a tender inscription, isn’t it?


Susan  J. Edminster, Granite Falls, WA February 14, 2012,  All Rights Reserved

The pictures are the sole property of Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, WA

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The Will and Probate of Robert Arbuckle, (1821-1895)

The will of Robert Arbuckle:


I Robert Arbuckle of Wadena in the County of Wadena and State of Minnesota being of sound mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this frail and transitory life, do therefor make, ordain, publish and declare this to be  my  LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.

FIRST–I order and direct that my Executor hereinafter named, pay all my  just debts and funeral expenses as soon after my decease as is conveniently may be.

SECOND–After payment of such funeral expenses and debts, I give, devise and bequeath all my property both real and personal that I may be possessed of or own at the time of my decease.  To my two sons John Alexander, and Peter McNiven, subject to the following bequests: – that said two sons, Peter McNiven and John Alexander, shall pay or cause to be paid to each of my daughters, Mary, Agnes and Maggie a sum of money equal to one tenth of my estate within three years after the date of my decease with interest on each tenth as aforesaid at its rate of seven per cent per annum from the date of  my decease until the time of such payment.

LASTLY–I make, constitute and appoint Thomas Robb and August Golz to Executors of this my Last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me  made.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed  my seal, the 25th day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five.   Robert Arbuckle (seal).

THIS INSTRUMENT was, on the day of the date thereof, signed, published and declared by the said Testator Robert Arbuckle  to be his Last Will and Testament in our presence, who at his request, have subscribed our names thereto as witnesses, in his presence, and in the presence of each other.

Signed by Louis Erickson residing at Wadena, and I.E. Boroken residing at Wadena, Minn.


Probate of the will of Robert Arbuckle:



Robert Arbuckle


THE PETITION OF John Alexander Arbuckle of Wadena in the County of Wadena and State of Minnesota respectful represents that Robert Arbuckle lat of Wadena in the County of Wadena State of Minnesota, deceased; that said deceased died on the 27th of February A.D. 1895, at the County of Wadena testate, as petitioner believes; that the instrument in writing herewith presented to this Court is thte Last Will and Testament of said deceased, as petitioner believes; and that Thomas Robb of Otter Tail Co. Minn and August Golz of Wadena named and appointed in and by said Last Will and Testament as executor thereof.  That the names, ages and residences of the heirs and devisees of the decedent so far as known to your petitioner, are as follows:  Peter McNiven Arbuckle, age 26 years residence Wadena, Minn. John Alexanader Arbuckle, age 21 yrs, residence Wadena, Minn.  Mary Philo aged about 38 yrs. residence Linden (sic) Wash, Agnes Crabtree, age about 35 yrs residence Linden (sic) Wash, Maggie Bolden, age about 32 yrs, residence Alden Iowa, Daniel Arbuckle age about 40 yrs, residence Richwood, Minn, Robert Arbuckle Jr age 36 yrs residence Wadena Minn. Andrew Arbuckle age 28 years residence Deer Creek, Minn, Jeannie Walker age about 48 yrs residence Staples, Minn, Janet Davidson  age about 37 yrs, residence Wadena, Minn William Arbuckle age about 48 resides at ——– Ontario, Ethel Keith age 34 yrs resides at Leaf Lake, Otter Tail County, Minn.

That the probable value of the personal property of the estate is: Three Thousand ——-DOLLARS.

That the probably value of the real property of the estate is ————————DOLLARS and its character is as follows:

That the name of the executor named in the Will are Thomas Robb, and his residence is Croftors, Otter Tail Co. Minn and August Golz residence Wadena, Minn.

YOUR PETITIONER THEREFORE PRAYS  that said Will may be proved and allowed as the last Will and Testament of said Robert Arbuckle deceased, and that letters of administration with the Will annexed, be granted to said Thomas Robb and August Golz. 

Dated at Wadena this last day of March A.D. 1895.  (signed) John Alexander Arbuckle


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, WA, February 14, 2012

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The Death of Robert Arbuckle (1821-1895)


Our community was greatly shocked Wednesday to hear that one of our old citizens, Robert Arbuckle, had taken his own life by swallowing a dose of strychnine.  The deceased was a widower, and had his home with his son-in-law, Wm Davidson upon the home farm.  This had recently been sold by Mr. Davidson to the Arbuckle boys, and the Davidsons were about to remove to another place.  This removal of his daughter and family it is thought preyed upon the mind of the old gentleman, and together with his intemperate habits probably caused him to commit the rash act in a moment of mental aberration.

On Thursday, Dr. W.N. Morell, the coroner, was summoned, and held an inquest, the following gentlemen acting as a jury: Joe Hocking, M.J. Katzky, A.R. Wiswell, Geo. Green, Sam Dower, S.V. Boyer.  A verdict of suicide that the deceased came to his death by his own hand was rendered.

His relatives have the deep sympathy of the community in this sad bereavement.  The funeral services will be held at the residence this afternoon at 2 o’clock, conducted by Rev. E. Cory.

Wadena Pioneer Journal, 1895 (date unknown)


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, January 30, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Will the Real Robert Arbuckle Please Stand Up?

Remember the old game show “To Tell the Truth”  popular in the late 1950’s?  The game went something like this:

There are four people trying to correctly identify a described contestant. This contestant is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character. The panelists question the three contestants; the impostors are allowed to lie but the central character is sworn “to tell the truth”. After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and thus is the central character.

This picture reminds me of that old game show.  I’m looking for the “truth” of who the couple in the picture really are.  We know that Robert Arbuckle and Jean McNiven were real people, but is this picture of them or of someone else? Obviously the man in the picture can’t stand up and tell us he is or isn’t Robert Arbuckle so we’re left trying other methods to figure out who the dickens he is!

Here’s my attempt:

The photograph is a standard Cabinet Card measuring 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches.

The Photo is glued to card stock, black in color.

The photographer was R.T. Dodd, 65 Jamaica St., Glasgow.

The man is wearing a three piece suit, the fabric looks like a rough woolen, there is a small chain attached to the vest.  Possibly a watch fob.

His hands appear to be clenched.

The woman looks as if she might be pregnant.

I’d been told by my cousin Margaret Blair who gave me the picture, that it was of Robert Arbuckle and Jean McNiven, my Great-Great-Grandparents who were born in Scotland, emigrated first to Canada and later to Minnesota.  But look!  Here’s another copy of the top half of the picture on which has been written: “Grand Mother and Father Arbuckle,  early 1800’s. The handwriting appears to be from one person and print (early 1800) by someone else.

Does the inscription resolve their identities?  No, not at all.  Whoever wrote on the picture has identified couple the photo as Grand Father and Grand Mother Arbuckle but although they may be Robert and Jean they could as easily be another set of Arbuckle grandparents? If so, who?

So I set up a telephone appointment with Maureen Taylor and even though it didn’t lead to  conclusive evidence Maureen was able to offer several considerations that helped me clarify the possibilities.

The inscription says  the picture was able to taken in the early 1800’s. Robert Arbuckle was born in 1821 so either this is not Robert, or that date is incorrect.

Maureen dated the picture as having been taken in the late 1860’s – 1870’s.  Jean Arbuckle’s last pregnancy was in 1874 when she was 54. This couple looks older, but farming in 1874 was not easy and they may be younger than they look.  If the photo is of Jean McNiven when she was pregnant with her last child, John, it would have been taken in the winter of 1873-1874.  John’s dob: February, 1874.

The Arbuckles were living in Canada in the mid-1850’s yet this picture was taken in Glasgow. Could they have returned to Scotland for a time or was there a Glasgow in Canada or Minnesota?  Indeed there is a Glasgow in Canada, but it’s been confirmed hat the photographer who took this photo did have a studio in Glasgow, Scotland so it seems likely that the photo was taken there rather than in Canada.

It seems unlikely that the Arbuckle’s were financially positioned to take a return trip to Scotland but we can’t be certain.

Perhaps R.T. Dodd, the Photographer travelled to Canada taking pictures of Scotts settlers there.

Another possibility is that the picture is of a sibling of Robert’s who stayed behind in Scotland.

My own personal, and probably sentimental idea is the unanswered question of why someone saved this particular picture.  And two different people identified the couple as Grandmother and Grandfather Arbuckle.  Margaret Blair verbalized that it was Robert and Jean Arbuckle, her Great-Grandparents.  Could it be?

So Robert and Jean if that’s really you we surely would like to know about it.  No need to stand up……

Note:  For an excellent analysis of this picture visit Patti-Davidson Peters blog:


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, January 29, 2012,  All rights reserved.

Pictures are the property of Susan J. Edminster.

Posted in Arbuckle, Pictures | 8 Comments