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Anna Holl
1875 - 1942

Anna Holl at age 14
Tintype Photograph - 1889

Jim Holl Collection

Anna Holl had a life filled with change. She was born November 23, 1875 in town of Bellevue, Brown County, Wisconsin at the family farm. She was the 9th child of Jacob and Margaret Dollar Holl and the youngest daughter. She was baptized November 28, 1875 at Holy Martyrs of Gorcum Catholic Church in Preble. Sponsors for the baptism of Anna were Peter Weiss and Anna Wendt.

Anna was just 5 years old when her father, Jacob Holl, died of Pneumonia in the winter of 1880. The next nearly 9 years were sometimes difficult ones for Anna, her mother and young siblings. The youngest, Edward, was born two months after their father's death. The Holl  farm supported them and the older boys sent money home from the winter lumber camps to help out. Margaret and  Jacob Holl felt school was essential. The children went to attended the old one room schoolhouse near the farm.  Their children came first. Jacob had been a kind, gentle and nurturing parent to his children, and had a caring relationship with his wife. Anna's memories of her father were probably few. Anna experienced the sudden death of her beloved older sister, Margaret,  from Typhoid fever in 1887 at age 19. Her oldest sister, Gertrude, had died a year before she was born, and this left her only one sister, Catherine, who was three years her senior.

At age 14, in 1889, Anna was presented with a step-father. He was a widowed neighbor named Frank Hammes. From family accounts, he was very much the opposite of the father she had known ten years earlier. Frank Hammes owned a large farm  and hotel east of the Holl's land and was considered a successful, but headstrong and difficult man. He was the brother and neighbor of John Hammes, whose family had been long time, dear friends of the Holls. Frank Hammes was said to be very strict and demanding of family members. His own children were grown and by the time of the marriage. He was an man of 69 years. His approach was to control things completely and make all decisions; even the smallest, coupled with the belief that his wife, her children and all she possesed were now his property. This was an old traditional belief of centuries past. Frank Hammes attempted to sell the Holl farm, but was not able to without Margaret's concent, which she would not give. Her first husband Jacob had wanted the her to have the farm and for it to benefit their children.

In 1889  Brown County Court proceeded to probate the estate of the late Jacob Holl Sr., requested by the surviving family. The final outcome was that the full estate of Jacob Holl Sr., including the farm land, became the legal property of his widow Margaret Dollar Holl, and upon her death, would be divided among her children. John Holl, the oldest son, was named Executor of the Estate and had the paperwork for Margaret's sole ownership of the land and estate drawn up, signed and registered with the court. Margaret's youngest children, who were still at home,  were removed from school by Frank and did full time farm work to comensate for his perceived loss of money. Anna moved "up north" to Oconto County, Wisconsin, to live with older brother, John Holl and his family, some time shortly after her mother's remarriage. Sister Catherine was hired as one of the first school teachers in the new town of How system, and also lived in the area with the brothers. 

J. H. C. Johnson Collection


Franklin Heber Witters was the son of William L. Witters, worker in a flour and feed store in Green Bay, who was born in Vermont in October 1840. His mother was Loa Tabors Witters who was born in August 1850, New York State. The families of both his parents originated in Great Britain his father's in Scotland and his mother's in England. Generations of each had lived in North America.  Frank's parents had married in New York, where his father worked as a carpenter in 1870. The family had moved to Wisconsin by 1871 and all the children were born in that state.  Fred was oldest, born in 1871, Frank was born in September 1876 and Chester followed in August of 1880.

Frank and Anna (Holl) Witters first son was born in Brown County on August 24, 1899 and named Lubert Abbott Witters (d:Witters, Leubert Abbott, d/b 2/1/1978, 78y, bur. #33-226-31 Fairmount Memorial Park, Spokane, Washington). He was soon followed by a second son named Marshall Hall Witters December 22, 1900. Frank, Anna and Abbott are found in the June 9, 1900 Howard, Brown  County census. Frank H. Witters was head of the household at the rented house on Woodland Ave. in the city of Green Bay. He was a "wood dealer" by trade. By 1910 the family was living in  Marshfield township, Wood County, Wisconsin  Frank and Anna with 2 sons, Lubert A. and Marshall H. Witters, lived in a house at 128 "B" Street. Frank was the proprietor of a pickle factory. The obituary of Anna's brother, Peter Holl, who died July 24, 1911 places the Witters family in Marshfield, WI.

In Canada 

According to reports in the Okotoks, Alberta newspaper, the "Okotoks Review", Frank H. arrived alone at Okotoks, Canada from Minnesota, just prior to 21 Apr 1911. By August of that year, Frank had entered into a purchase of farm land owned by W. R. Smith; (NE1/4-2-21-29-W4), approximately 4 miles NE of the town of Okotoks. This farm was heavily bushed, and he named it "Woodland .  It is further reported that he returned to (Minnesota) in the period between April and August, picking up his wife and 2 children, and bringing them to Okotoks prior to 25 Aug. 1911.

The families neighbors were described in the Okotoks Advance on March 9, 1911 as exclusively from the "British Isles and Eastern Provinces and the United States; there is not a settlement of any foreign speaking people within the bounds of the district.  Frank Witters came from a family with this background, but Anna Holl Witters was from an area of Wisconsin with strong ethnic and foreign language ties. Her own family had spoken German at home, and in their community, when she was young. This must have been quite a different world. The Okotas area of Canada was new developed and growing rapidly with a massive influx of new residents. There were churches, a fine school that was being enlarged, railroad.  Despite newspaper claims that the soil was "good, rich, black clay loam; class 1" the Witters farm was not favored with this type of soil and crops grew poorly. One of the more prosperous families in the are was the large N. P. Johnson clan. Their younger children went to school with the Witters boys.

J. H. C. Johnson Collection

Several local newspaper articles printed in the following few years give us a description of the Witters family activities. It was Frank Witters stated intention to commence farming, including dairying. He first brought a few blooded Guernsey (Ayrshire) milking cows and followed in September of 1912 with the purchase of four dairy Holstein cows, then a Holstein bull was added to increase the heard. Hog sows and a boar were also added. Frank also advertised hay available to trade for horses, and had purchased a new milk separator machine. In November of 1912 Frank Witters was selling a new, grade Ayrshire milking cow.

  J. H. C. Johnson Collection

Government records show that in the midst of developing the farm near Okotoks, Frank H. Witters entered an Application for Entry to a Homestead on  August 6, 1913, at Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada. He listed his permanent residence as this homestead beginning  November 5, 1913 and erected a house meeting the requirements of the homestead contract that same year. Over the next 5 years he traveled back and forth between the farm in Okotoks and the homestead in Rocky Mountain House once or twice a year to establish permanent residency and make the improvements required for claiming the land patent. At this time, there was no railroad servicing the Rocky Mountain House area and travel was by stage coach, wagon, horse or on foot.

During his extended absences, Ann and sons Lubert and Marshall had to manage all the work on the farm by themselves. The sons were enrolled in the local 4 room schoolhouse, Penima School, with the Johnson children and other neighbors. The family was settling well into the community. Anna entered a variety of items in the local Okotoks fair July of 1914 and was awarded in several categories. She had bred the top place Plymouth Rock barred cock pullet in Poultry and grew the top Gooseberry pint presented to judges. But her skills really shown in  needlework, where she took top prize for Battenberg (lace) style table centerpiece and a table mats set. In the same fair, Lubert took top prize for the Best Group of Drawings from Ungraded Schools.

Frank had been living at the Rocky Mountain House homestead all the winter of 1913 and until  March 15 of 1914. He was back on the Okotoks farm with Anna and the boys from that time until May 24 of 1914; only 7 weeks total. He traveled again to spend from the end of May until August 10, 1914 at the Rocky Mountain House homestead.  Only a few days after again returning to the his family on the farm, Frank Witters offered his 3 year old One Grade Holstein Bull "from the best dairy section in Wisconsin" for sale in the August 20, 1914 newspaper. The following week, August 27, 1914, an insightful interview with Frank Witters appeared in the Okotoks Observer. It offered that the family farm was prospering well. Frank remained with the family the winter of 1914 and was there to see both his sons win school honors for Latin Grammar

Comments after the Witters auction
J. H. C. Johnson Collection

Frank had been living at the Rocky Mountain House homestead all the winter of 1913 and until  March 15 of 1914. He was back on the Okotoks farm with Anna and the boys from that time until May 24 of 1914; only 7 weeks total. He traveled again to spend from the end of May until August 10, 1914 at the Rocky Mountain House homestead.  Only a few days after again returning to the his family on the farm, Frank Witters offered his 3 year old One Grade Holstein Bull "from the best dairy section in Wisconsin" for sale in the August 20, 1914 newspaper. The following week, August 27, 1914, an insightful interview with Frank Witters appeared in the Okotoks Observer. It offered that the family farm was prospering well. Frank remained with the family the winter of 1914 and was there to see both his sons win school honors for Latin Grammar on February 26th, 1915. In April the J. Aldridge family moved onto the adjacent farm. Frank left again for the homestead in Spring on May 26, 1915 returning on August 29th of that year. During this 3 month absence, life went on for Anna and the boys. The Okotoks Review reported the winners of the July 1915 fair competitions. Anna again took top honors in Battenberg Lace, Fancy Handkerchief, Gents Shirt and Mitts

Auction of the Witters Farm holdings.
J. H. C. Johnson Collection

Frank H. Witters
1915 to 1930

With the coming of Fall, Frank returned to the Okotoks farm and family at the end of August in 1915. By October of that year, neighbor J. Aldridge had organized a distress auction of the Witters farm holdings. The local newspaper reported the items and stock being auctioned and did not mention the Witters name, only the farm that the Witters resided on. The stock was young and not large in numbers, Anna's 100 chickens were among the sale items. The equipment was newer, and some of it still had money owned on the purchase. Although the auction was reported a week later as a success, it is unlikely that the Witters family received much money for their own use from it. After the auction, Anna and her two sons moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where Marshall went to school. Lubert, now known by his middle name of Abbott, began working. Anna put her sewing skills to use as an seamstress in a women's fashion boutique.

Also shortly after the auction, November 25, 1915, Frank Witters, at the age of 39 years, left for the Rocky Mountain House homestead where he stayed continuously through July 3, 1917.  During that time, he improved the homestead by digging a well, clearing some of the land of timber and stumps for crops and preparing timbers for stock barns, fences, etc. He then made a Patent claim for the homestead property in July of 1917, claiming  that he was a British subject by naturalization, and was granted the land patent on January 31, 1918. Frank H. Witters never rejoined his wife, Anna, and sons Abbott and Marshall in Calgary. No divorce was  reported sought, or has been found, by either Frank or Anna Witters.

Selling the homestead land, he turns up at Denver, Colorado, USA, in 1920. On the census form he was originally listed as immigrating to the US  in 1915 who had applied for US citizenship. These entries were crossed off. Frank H. Witters was listed as the single head of household, age 42, born in Wisconsin, and working for wages as a Stockman in a Machinery Company.  Residing with him was Ethel J. Snyder, age 34, divorced, born in Indiana;  Edna M. Snyder, age 9, born in Canada and came to the US in 1917; Louise E. Snyder, age 7, born in Canada, came to the US in 1917. The three female household residents were described as sister-in-law and nieces of Frank H.  1917 was also the last year that Frank had reported to have lived on the homestead in Canada, and the year that the two Canadian born nieces had come to the US.

The next entry for Frank H. Witters is on the 1930 US Census for Cheyenne City, Laramie County, WY. Frank is listed as the married head of household, age 52, age at marriage 22 years (Frank was 22 years old when he married Anna Holl in Green Bay Wisconsin), born in Wisconsin, employed as a Stockman for I. H. C. of America. Ethyl Witters is listed as wife of Frank H., age 45, age at marriage 20 years, born in Indiana. Orville F. Witters is listed as son of Frank H., age 8, born in Wyoming. Louise Snyder is listed as single step-daughter of Frank H., age 17, born in Canada with the notation "Am. Cit.".

Life Claim to Social Security for Frank Heber Witters, #520034227, born September 14, 1877 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was filed November 13, 1942.

Birth:  Sep. 14, 1877
Death:  1961

Married Julia E. Snyder Jan. 31, 1920 
Family links: 
  Julia E. Snyder Witters (1885 - 1966)*
*Calculated relationship
Loveland Burial Park
Larimer County
Colorado, USA
Plot: Blk 37, Lot 29, Grave 4

His son by Ethyl Snyder:

Franklin Orville Witters

Birth:  Aug. 6, 1921 Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, USA
Death:  Oct. 28, 1984 Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, USA
  Nancy L Witters (1923 - 1999)
  Burial: Beth El Cemetery Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, USA Plot: Sec S Lot 32 Sp A

Anna Holl Witters in Calgary

Anna Holl Witters is found in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for the remainder of her life. The family first appeared in the 1916 Henderson Directory and the progression of their employment carriers and places of residence can be followed from the entries.

In 1916 as:
 Witters,   Mrs. Anna  412  22 Ave. NE -  dressmaker
 Witters, L. Abbott - teamster
In 1917 as:
 Witters,   Mrs Anna  412  22 Ave. NE -  dressmaker
 Witters, L. Abbott - teamster
 Witters, M. H. -  employee Great West Saddlery - apprentice leather worker
In 1918 as:
 Witters,   Mrs Anna  412  22 Ave. NE -  dressmaker
 Witters, L. Abbott  - teamster
 Witters, M. H. -  employee Great West Saddlery
In 1919 as:
Witters, Mrs Anna  922 3rd Ave NW-assistant manager at A. Bomont (Ladies Wear Shop)
Witters, L. Abbott - mechanic at Woodley's Garage
Witters, Marshall H. -   clerk at Gt West Saddlery
In 1924 as:
 Witters,  Mrs Anna  922 3rd Ave NW - Proprietor of Calgary Costume & Wig Shop
 Witters, L Abbott - Electrical apprentice
 Witters, Marshall H. -   clerk Gt West Saddlery

In 1925 as:
 Witters,  Mrs Anna  922 3rd Ave NW- Proprietor of Calgary Costume & Wig Shop
 Witters, L Abbott - Electrician
 Witters, Marshall H. -  warehouseman at Gt West Saddlery
In 1926 as:
 Witters, Mrs Anna  922 3rd Ave NW - Proprietor of Calgary Costume & Wig Shop
 Witters, Marshall H. -  warehouseman Gt West Saddlery
In 1927 as:
 Witters, Mrs  Anna  922 3rd Ave NW -Proprietor of Calgary Costume & Wig Shop
 Witters, Marshall H. -  sales manager at Gt West Saddlery
Son L. Abbott Witters was last listed in the Calgary directory in 1925. He would
have been 26 years old at that time. He is later found in Spokane, Washington, USA, 
where many of his future sister-in-law's Johnson family also moved.

Son Marshall H. Witters was listed with Anna up until 1932. Thereafter, Anna was
listed alone at the same address until 1942.

The Witters first appeared in the 1925 Calgary, Canada, Voting List as:
 Witter,   Mrs. A.   922 3rd ave.  N.W.
Anna was in the voting lists at the same address until 1942. 

Anna Holl Witters 1937

Using the skills she had won prizes for in the Okotoks Annual Fair, Anna Holl Witters began working as a dress maker after resettling with her sons in Calgary, 1915. The three Witters lived at 412 22 Avenue NE from 1915 through 1918.  In short order she worked her way up to assistant manager of the A. Bomont Ladies Wear Shop by 1919. That same year the Anna and sons moved to 922 3rd. Avenue NW. where Anna continued to live from then on. In 1924 Anna opened her own boutique, The Calgary Costume and Wig Shop, which she owned for 18 years. 



She and sister, Kitty (Catherine) Holl Kaye, had remained in touch with each other. Kitty had just returned from a yearly visit to Calgary when Anna passed away. Anna Holl Witters died in hospital July 08, 1942 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Anna had lived in Canada 31 years, and in Calgary for 26.  She is buried in Burnside Baptist Cemetery. Her headstone has her maiden surname spelled Hall rather than Holl. This same spelling is found on the WI State Pre-1907 Marriage Index. There were two adjacent graves purchased at the plot in which she is buried, and the gravestone has room for two names, but only Anna is listed as being buried and the other side of the stone remains blank.

Green Bay Gazette Obituary:
July, 1942


Mrs Anna Witters, 66, a former Green Bay resident and a member of the Baptist church, died Wednesday at her home in Calgary, Canada. Funeral services were held this afternoon at Calgary. Survivors are two sons, Abbott L., Port Townsend, Wash.; and Marshal H., Edmonton, Canada; one sister, Mrs. J. E. Kaye, Green Bay; and two brothers, Henry, Bellevue; and Matthew, Suring. Mrs. Kaye recently returned from visiting her sister.

Marshall, Anna, Iona and baby Marianne Witters 1935

Marshall,  Iona and young Marianne Witters 1939

Oldest son Lubert Abbott Witters started work in Calgary as a teamster in 1916. He continued as a horse driver for three years.

Marshall H. Witters 1937

He then began working as a mechanic at Woodley's Garage until 1924 when he started an electrician's apprenticeship. The last year he is listed in Calgary is 1925 when he was an electrician. On the 1930 US Census, L. Abbott is single, living as a boarder in Spokane, Washington, and working as an electrician. Members of the large Johnson family, with whom he was raised and schooled in Okotoks, were living in that city as well as Calgary in Canada.  At the time of his mother Anna's death in 1942 his residence was in Port Townsend, Washington. He is listed on the Social Security Death Index as again living in Spokane at the time of his death in February 1978 at the age of 79 years.
Son Marshall H. Witters attended public school after the move from the Okotoks farm to Calgary. By 1917 he was employed at the Great West Saddlery as an apprentice leather worker. This would be the company he stayed with until his retirement. Between his initial hiring and 1919 Marshall worked with leather and then became a clerk in the store through 1924. He was transferred to warehouseman the following year and by 1927 was promoted to sales manager.

While living in Okotoks, Marshall had known many members of the large Johnson family there, including a daughter, Iona Johnson who was two years younger than himself. Iona had repeatedly distinguished herself in the school and community by winning awards for both athletic and scholastic achievements. Each year her name was found among the most skillful students reported in the local paper. She had been born to Nels Peter Johnson and his wife Mary Nordean at Lewiston, Idaho, US in 1902. Her mother was 44 years old when Iona was born. From 1909 to 1916 the Johnson family worked their farm in Okotoks while Iona went to school with her younger siblings. The Witters moved onto a neighboring farm in 1911 to 1914. By 1917 Iona was living on the family Kinsella farm and keeping house for the farmer who rented that land from her parents. In 1921 Iona  was living at 908, 17th Ave. W, Calgary, taking  a course at the business academy, which she successfully completed in 1923. Her career began with a position in at the bank in Gadsby, Alberta and in the next few years lead to employment in Calgary and Edmonton, working as a stenographer. With the death of her father in 1926, Iona helped her mother, Mary, with the business of selling the family farms and moving to live with her in Calgary. Together with her sister Lubena, the three women lived in homes owned by her brother William until 1932, when Mary joined another of Iona's sisters in Spokane, Washington, to run a confectionery. Mary Johnson died there in 1941.


After her move to Calgary in 1926, Iona renewed acquaintance with former schoolmate and neighbor, Marshall Witters. The two were married in April 30, 1931 in Kamloops and moved to Saskatoon, SK when Marshall was transferred there. In December of 1934 they announced the birth of daughter Marianne. Johnson family photos indicate that Marshall and Iona remained close to both their families and made frequent visits. Marshall was manager of Great West Saddlery in Saskatoon until 1945 when he was transfered and the family moved to Winnipeg, MB. He remained there with the Great West Saddlery until his retirement, which brought the family to Keremoeo, BC by 1955. Iona Madge Johnson Witters died there September 4, 1963. Marshall lived on in Keremeos (Oliver, British Columbia) to the age 89. He died at the Extended Care Unit, S.O. General Hospital December 24, 1989 and like his wife Iona, he was cremated.

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