Does Chris Knutsen Have Living Descendants?  

By Jean Cammon Findlay, as part of The Knutsen Archives

Updated, June, 2008

It is highly likely that Chris Knutsen has living descendants.  Finding the proof and finding the persons are the problems.  But, among the choices, it is most probable that there are a granddaughter, two great-granddaughters, and a great-great granddaughter who might be proud to know about their illustrious ancestor.

Though there is no known issue (children) from his first marriage to Ida Yahr in North Dakota which lasted only a few months, it is now known that Chris had three daughters with his second wife, his first cousin, Anna Cammen.[1]  They are Bertha (born 1888 in Washington), Evaulda Antonette (born 1889 in Minnesota), and Myrtle (born 1907 in Washington).[2]

Chris’s oldest daughter, Bertha, apparently had no issue from any of her marriages.  She almost certainly was married to James Herbert Pickles in Tacoma in 1903 or 1904, but the last we know of him for certain is when his address in Polk’s directory is listed the same as Chris’s (1910 8th Ave) in Seattle in 1907.  He and Bertha are not in the household in the 1910 census and I have not been able to locate their whereabouts yet.

By 1920, Bertha is back with her parents at their Temple Street address in Los Angeles.  There are no children recorded for her, her last name is now Musson, and she is listed as married.  A further search reveals a Chris Musson living alone, but married, in Tacoma.  A Tacoma Polk’s directory shows a Chris and Bertha Musson living at Lemon’s Beach in 1916 and again in 1917, but neither is listed after that.

Bertha married Frank Stevens in San Diego in October 1922.  On her marriage certificate she declared this was her second marriage and that she had been widowed.  It is possible, even probable, that she was widowed from Pickles, but Chris Musson did not die until February 1942 so she had to have been divorced from him. Bertha died of a stroke in November 1943 and only Frank is listed as a survivor in her LA Times death notice—though both her sisters were still living.[3]

Evaulda and Tom Rousseau had two children, and according to her birth certificate, Lacresia, born in October 1905, was their second and only living child.  Evaulda and Tom were married for 59 years.  Tom was 79 when he died of a stroke in San Bernardino in August 1963.  Evaulda lived another 10 years before she died at 84 of cardiovascular disease in December 1973 (more than three years after Lacresia’s death).  Her obituary listed no survivors.

Lacresia Evaulda Rousseau married Roy Frederick Johnson in Los Angeles in October 1925 (the officiate was Aimee Semple McPherson, “Baptist Minister”).[4]  Lacresia and Roy had two children, Ronald Sidney (Sidney after his grandfather William Sidney Johnson) born in June 1927, and Gwendolyn Evaulda, born in October 1930.  Lacresia, it turns out, had multiple sclerosis, but its symptoms were mistaken for epilepsy.  She was apparently hospitalized for this condition at “Los Amigos,” a hospital that specialized in chronic illnesses, and her parents came and got her (“kidnapped” is the word Roy used in their divorce record).  Lacresia filed for divorce in 1946.  In defense, Roy maintained that Lacresia’s parents had interfered with his marriage; that he was well able to care for her.   Nevertheless, the divorce was final in 1948 and Lacresia thereafter lived with her parents.  She died at age 62 in San Bernardino in May 1970 of conditions related to her multiple sclerosis.  In her obituary, only her mother is listed as a survivor; her children are not mentioned at all.  Roy was employed as a car salesman when he died of lung cancer in August 1973 alone in a San Diego motel room where he had been living since June.  There is little information on his death certificate, except Lacresia was listed as his surviving spouse, so it is possible Roy didn’t even know she had died.  There is no mention of his children in any of the records.

Other than her birth, nothing is known of Gwendolyn Evaulda Johnson.  A search of records does not reveal a marriage in California.  Either she did not marry, or she moved to another state.  If alive, she would be 75 years old.  Chris’s great-granddaughter, she is one possibility as his living descendant.

Ronald Sidney Johnson did marry, but I cannot discover if there were any children.  In the California Birth Index, with a last name like Johnson, there are just too many possibilities, even though his wife’s maiden name, Rogers, is known.  Ronald died in March 1983 at the age of 55 in a motorcycle accident near Ventura, California.  He lost control on a curve and died of head injuries.

Myrtle Knutsen married Charles (Bud) Scofield Hageman, Jr., in the mid-1920’s.  Their only child was Jane Patricia Hageman, born in June 1927.  Myrtle and Charles were divorced though I have not ascertained just when.  Myrtle died of “arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease” in Los Angeles in January 1968.  Charles predeceased Myrtle in July 1962.

Jane Hageman married Warren Robert Dugan.  They had two children, Mark Warren Dugan, born in October 1948, and Kimberly P. Dugan.  I cannot locate his birth record, but he was listed as a witness at his brother Mark’s wedding.

Mark married Nancy Kemner in December 1970 in San Diego.  Their daughter, Samantha Ann Dugan, was born June 1971 in San Diego.  At some point, Mark and Nancy apparently separated, and Mark died of a drug overdose in February 1978.

Myrtle’s family, then, produces three more possibilities for Chris’s living descendants: his granddaughter, Jane Patricia Hageman Dugan, his great-grandson Kimberly P. Dugan, and his great-great granddaughter, Samantha Ann Dugan.

Update, June, 2008:




And that is how in February 2007 we learned that Chris Knutsen did indeed have a living descendant.

Samantha descends from Chris through his youngest child, Myrtle, who is Samantha’s great-grandmother.  Myrtle and her husband Charles (Bud) Scofield Hageman had one child, Jane, in 1927.  Jane married Warren Dugan and they had two boys, Mark and Kim.  Mark, the oldest, is Samantha’s father.  Mark, Jane and Warren are all deceased.

Just for fun one evening, Samantha Googled herself.  The website for a retail wine company, The Wine Country in Long Beach where Samantha writes the newsletter and is now general manager, came up as she expected, but what was this?  A hit on a harp guitar website?  She read the article in The Knutsen Archives, “Does Chris Have Living Descendants?” and discovered she had a whole lot more family than she had been aware of.  We were equally surprised and delighted when she wrote to the website and introduced herself.

Samantha does not know a great deal about her father’s family, since Mark died when she was seven years old.  She does remember once meeting her grandparents Jane and Warren, in Mexico when they were living there.  But it is a memory which is as faded as an old photograph.  She also has met her Uncle Kim, Mark’s younger brother, and Kim’s son, her cousin.  As Samantha recalls, his name is Kip. 

Samantha has a child, a son, Jeremy, now a college student.  So in one moment in time we learn that Chris really has four—Samantha, Jeremy, Kim, and Kip—known living descendants, all with the surname Dugan.

As for the burning question—Is there a harp guitar stashed in your closet, Samantha?—alas, the answer is no.  The first she knew about harp guitars was when she found the website while looking for her name.

Like the child who looks around the mounds of debris after Christmas package opening and moans, “Is that all?” we also wonder if these are Chris’s only living descendants.  And we don’t know.  His granddaughter Lacresia (her mother was Chris’s second daughter, Evaulda), had two children with her husband Roy Johnson.  Their son, Ronald Sidney Johnson, died in a motorcycle accident in March 1983, and it is not known if he had children.  Born in 1930, their daughter, Gwendolyn Evaulda Johnson, is probably still alive, and whether she married and had children is still an unanswered question.

So yes, there could be more as yet unknown descendants.  With or without a harp guitar languishing in a closet, we would be thrilled to hear about you!  You can start your email, “Hello, my name is…”

[1] Anna’s family most often spelled their last name Cammen, while Chris’s family most often spelled it Cammon.  By the 20th century, all family members except one person, my great-grandfather Hans Kammen, were using the Cammon spelling.

[2] Chris had several stepchildren from Anna’s first marriage in Minnesota to Albert Nikolai Blix, but it is unclear whether the family ever had much to do with them.  When Anna and Albert separated in the spring of 1888, those children apparently stayed with their father.  In fact, in the 1910 census, which asked a woman how many children she had had and how many of those were still living, Anna replied she’d had eight, four of whom were still alive.  We know that three of those living were Bertha, Evaulda, and Myrtle, but evidence from other censuses reveals more than one of her previous children were still alive at the time.

Censuses contain a lot of information, but they also raise questions or pose mysteries, and sometimes they get it just plain wrong.  According to the 1880 federal census, Anna and Albert had three children: George, born 1872; Emma, born 1878; and Adolphus, born 1880.  By the 1885 Minnesota state census Albert and Anna’s children are listed as Frank, 11; Emma, 8; Adolph, 5; Henry, 3; and Anton, 5 months.  So there are five children right there, six if Frank and George are two different people.  If those two are one and the same, five plus three adds up to eight, so perhaps Anna’s 1910 declaration of having borne eight children is correct.

The mystery about Frank/George may never be solved.  There is no 1890 federal census to explore because all those documents were destroyed in a fire and so far none of the substitute records I have found have been helpful. 

The 1900 census bears some extra information.  By this time Albert Blix had remarried, to Anna Gausemel, and they had three children of their own.  In one of those felicitous happenstances, the Blix family got counted twice, once on June 1, when they lived in Granite Falls, MN, and again on June 19 after they had apparently moved to nearby Sparta.  On June 1 we find listed Adolph, (Henry) Andrew, and Anton, all with their correct ages and birth dates.  On June 19, only Anton is still in the household.  But on June 13, when the census was taken at the Minnesota State Training School in Red Wing, a Henry Blix of the correct age appears on their roster of pupils.  Unfortunately, after that, I can never be sure that I am tracing the correct Henry A. Blix as there appears to be a cousin of a similar age and the same name in Wisconsin (though in his case, the A stands for Alfred, not Andrew).

I can, however, trace Adolph and Anton.  Adolph Leonard Blix became a dentist, married, had three children of his own, and died in Owatonna, MN, in January 1942.  Anton Oscar (Tony) Blix subsequently homesteaded in South Dakota, and then settled in Tacoma by 1920.  He married and had two children, then died in December 1932 in Tacoma.  His obituary listed three sisters as survivors, Bertha, Evaulda, and Myrtle, all of Los Angeles, and two brothers, Henry of Tacoma and Adolph of Minnesota.  So certainly three Blix boys were alive in 1910, not just the one Anna counted.  I think Anton was the only one who she knew for certain was alive; perhaps she was estranged from Henry and Adolph and had lost touch with them.

The daughter, Emma, could have either died or married early, and unless the record can be located and her married name learned, her path will stop in 1885.  George and/or Frank also presents difficulties, as he is old enough to be on his own shortly after 1885, and as we have seen in Chris’s case (among other choices such as an early death), it is possible to have a name change and be almost undiscoverable by researchers for a long long time.

[3] I find it touching that when Frank gave the information for Bertha’s death certificate, he had cared enough about her family to know the correct first and last names (and spelling) for her parents.

One could do a whole study on how well families knew their lineages by examining death certificates.  For instance, while LA County General Hospital provided the information for Chris and Anna’s death certificates, one wonders who originally gave the information to them, but judging from the transliteration, someone with a marked Norwegian accent.  For Chris’s parents they listed “ Olaf Knutsen” (he was really Ole Cammon) and “Baragetta Scunka” (Bergetta Skancke—though one can be forgiven for this attempt as I have found many variants for the correct spelling of Bergetta’s given and maiden names).  Anna’s parents were recorded as Edward Cammon (her father was Anton Cammon) and Anna Cammon (her mother actually was Edwardina Rodin).

[4] See Knutsen and Angelus Temple (coming soon)

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