It seems I am attracted to uncovering the stories of the deceased in my family. The mystery of the Cherryville Cemetery was solved a couple of years ago. This time around it is the story of my Great-Grandfather, Wilfred Boucher.
The family story goes that he moved to Hardy Island, British Columbia from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I believe he moved because of a business opportunity. He moved there first to scope out the area and then his wife and children made their way there (as is the case in modern times). At the time of his death he and my great-grandmother were far away from extended family. Shortly after his death my great-grandmother moved back home to Coeur d’Alene. She never remarried and she lived well into her nineties. She died when I was a teenager and I have very fond memories of her. She had a beautiful spirit.
I have always had a weird feeling about the death of my great-grandfather. Whenever the story was told to me I always wondered if his death was really a murder. Just a gut feeling I have always had that I’ve never really talked about (honestly, how accidental is a shot through the heart?). Sure enough, I had a conversation with my cousin a few months ago about this and he said that my great-grandmother told him that Will Boucher was murdered but at the time there was nothing she could do about it so she left town and moved back home to Idaho.
My sister has been researching our family history and she discovered that he was buried in Vancouver BC in the Mountain View Cemetery. This was a surprise because we always thought he was buried somewhere on Nelson Island, B.C. (Or maybe even Hardy Island). Another interesting tidbit is that, according to some family lore, he was “involved in something political in Vancouver” and that is, perhaps, why he was killed. I am not sure what any of this means. I would like to research the history of Vancouver and find out what might have happened politically around 1915.
I happened to be visiting Vancouver BC this past week so I thought I’d check out my great-grandfather’s grave and shoot a pinhole photo for Pinhole Obscura. I learned that every single resident of Vancouver who has died is (supposedly) buried in this cemetery. It is completely huge and utterly overwhelming. We wandered around a bit before deciding to go to the cemetery office. Thanks to the impeccable records of the City of Vancouver, I was able to go exactly to the spot where he was buried. The office dude gave me a map and told me exactly where to go. He did mention that his grave might be unmarked though (He was looking at a satellite view of it). I’d come all that way to find his grave. I was willing to take the chance!
I wandered to the spot and, indeed, there was absolutely nothing there at all. No gravestone. No marker. Nothing.
He is buried somewhere under this beautiful tree. I have to admit that I got a little bit choked up. It made me so sad that this person that we have absolutely revered in my family, the patriarch, has been buried for 100 years in a cemetery so far away from home in an unmarked grave. Damn. It makes me sad just thinking about it even now.
I wondered if I am the first family member to even visit it in 100 years?!?
Needless to say, we are already thinking about getting a headstone placed.
I am also really curious about his story. I want to fill in the missing pieces.
I haven’t done a Wayback Wednesday in ages. I left off with my great grandmother, Barbara Vakoc. Here she is again, second in from the right. She is standing with my great grandfather, Edward Schneberger. I am told that his brother is the other man in this photo and that this is his brother’s wedding. It’s possible that they could be modeling for Edward’s photography studio, too.
Again, I have always wondered about Barbara. In this photo she looks pissed off. I wonder what happened to make her have that look.
Last week’s Wayback Wednesday was about my Grandpa, so I thought I would keep going in that vein and post photos of his parents. I am fascinated by their story and want to learn more about both of them. The woman in the middle is my great grandmother Barbara Vakoc. She and my great grandfather, Edward met in Chicago. They were both Czech. They met because she was a model for the photography studio Ed worked at. My great grandfather’s last name was Schneberger so I always assumed he owned half of the studio (based on this photo) but my mom tells me that he went to work for his uncle in the studio.
So they met and fell in love and got married. Barbara suffered from depression, and I can see it in the photo above and in other photos of her (which I will post later). She died in a mental institution after the death of a child and not long after they moved the family out west to Coeur d’Alene Idaho. I have more to say about too.
I scanned a truckload of old photos when my mom was here last weekend and this is one of them. Apparently, my Grandpa Ed owned an airplane and this is it. He didn’t know how to fly it. My mom says that my grandmother was MAD when he brought it home and it sat in their yard for years and years. This story makes me laugh. I love that my grandpa impulsively bought an airplane. I wonder what he was thinking?