Brecka Side · Meet An Ancestor

Edward William Waters (1835-1902)

I first wrote about Edward Waters back in 2015 after I initially started researching my family tree. This guy was a “brick wall” of sorts for years. He was my great-great grandfather. However, after searching for years, I found very little information on his life prior to 1886 (when he was married at 50 years old). It wasn’t until I found the mortuary notice above that things started to click.

So, who was Edward Waters? This is what I’ve learned so far. 

Since my last post in 2015, I have found a copy of Edward’s death certificate (shown here). Edward Waters was born July 22, 1835 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father’s name was William Waters. His mother’s name was Elizabeth. I’ve found absolutely nothing on his parents. No census data, no birth records for Edward or any potential siblings, no marriage records of any sort. His parents, William and Elizabeth, are my new brick walls.

Here Edward’s occupation is listed as “laborer” but he’s listed as a “hostler” within the Milwaukee City Directory several years in a row going back to 1888.

Edward, who was a 50-year-old black man (according to both the mortuary notice and his death certificate), married Ida Olson, a 20-year-old Swedish woman, in 1886. I didn’t believe it myself, but everything I’ve found backs this up. The location of their marriage is still not certain. I do have a few guesses including Eau Claire, WI – I’m waiting on a copy of a marriage license to confirm this. Update 1/26/22: I received a copy of the 1886 marriage license from Eau Claire, WI and it wasn’t the correct Ida Olson. According to census data, they got married in 1886. However, at this point, I’m questioning if they actually got married. (More on Ida here)

Edward and Ida settled within the city of Milwaukee. Several addresses including 574 Market St. can be found within the Milwaukee city directories. They had 6 children: 

  • Sadie Waters (1889-1906) 
  • Louise Elizabeth Waters (1892-1985) 
  • Joseph Charles Waters, Sr. (1984-1990) 
  • Edward William Waters, Jr. (1897-1965) 
  • Susanna Johanna Waters (1899-1936) 
  • Edna Isabel Waters (1902-1996) 

Edward Waters passed away on October 10, 1902 at 67 years of age. This was just 4 months after his youngest child, Edna, was born. The mortuary notice states he had heart disease and his death certificate says he died of pneumonia. Perhaps both? He is buried in the Union cemetery in Milwaukee, WI. 


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