Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - Ruth Bowsher Zimmeth

Ruth Zimmeth was my step-grandma, being my grandfather's third wife.  Her name should really read Ruth Ellen Bowsher Smeaton Hessling Stanley Moore Zimmeth. She led such an interesting life and I wish two things:

1. That I had know what I know now about her before she died.
2. That I had the guts to ask her about her life.

My mom knew that Ruth had been married before she married my grandpa, and I think she knew that Ruth had been adopted when she was an infant, and that Ruth had a son.

Ruth was born December 13, 1899 in Standish, Michigan to Nelson Lewis or Lewis Nelson Bowsher and Mary Ellen Sanderson and was the youngest of their five children. The eldest daughter, Mary, died the day after her own birth. The surviving children were Charles, born in 1881 in Ohio, Daisy, born in 1884, also in Ohio and Catherine or Cassy, born in 1888 in Ohio.  So you see that Ruth was 11 years younger than Cassy, 15 years younger than Daisy and 18 years younger than Charles. In 1900, I found an Ellen Bowsher, born in Ohio,  in a Sanitarium in Grand Traverse county. There is no other record of her. In May of 1900, Ruth was adopted by James and Caronline (Phillips) Smeaton in Standish, Michigan. They were age 57 and 52 at the time of Ruth's adoption.

When Ruth was 14, she married Albert Hessling. The marriage produced her son Maynard in 1916 when Ruth was 16. Ruth and Albert divorced in March of 1918 when Ruth was 18. Albert got custody of Maynard. Maynard was actually raised by Albert's sister and brother-in-law.

In June of 1918, Ruth married David Stanley and they divorced on October 9, 1920. They married again November 27, 1920. After that I have no idea what happened to David. I don't know if their marriage ended in divorce or death. I do know that Ruth married Thomas Lloyd Moore on October 28, 1928 in Gaylord, Michigan. There was only one problem with this marriage. He was already married. Ruth divorced him sometime before December of 1944. That was the year she married my grandfather. In 1953, she received an annulment for her marriage to Moore. She and grandpa lived pretty happily after that.

Charles Zimmeth, Ruth's last husband and my grandfather, died June 4, 1979 in Essexville, Michigan. Ruth died November 12, 1990 in Hampton Bay, Michigan.  Ruth always wanted to live to be 100. Her memorial card actually gives her birth year as 1889. Too bad it was wrong. Ruth is buried beside her last husband in St. Michael's Cemetery in Pinconning, Michigan.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. Wow! With a name with all those names...She should have lived an interesting life. She sure was a woman that would always have someone.

  2. My grandmother was born in Standish the following July -- wonder if she knew Ruth. has the Grand Rapids Press article published 7-30-1915 with the headlines "Married Man Elopes With Girl In 'Teens" - Albert Hessling of Pinconning Accused of Abducting Ruth Smeaton, Aged Fifteen." What an interesting life your step-grandmother must have had.

  3. Her granddaughter had the divorce record which recorded Ruth & Albert's marriage being in 1914.

  4. I picked up that article PalmsRV and the followup which documents their marriage. Thanks for the heads up.