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This is a glimpse of what Easter Sunday looked like for the Hoover family seventy-nine years ago. The inscription on the back of the photos says, "Easter Sunday, April 9, 1944."

From left to right are; Sally, John, Jane, Maxine, Mary Ann, Leo, Jake & Lizzie Hoover

There are so many things to see in a picture. Things that are visible. Things that you have to look for. Things that are missing. Things that have yet to happen.

In this picture, I see the tender arm that John Hoover has placed around the shoulder of his grand daughter Sally. I imagine, although I can't see it this picture, that his other hand is gently touching the backside of Jane.

I wonder what Jane is holding in her hand.

In this picture, I see how Leo is holding Mary Ann. Although she is just a baby he made a point to uncover her face and turn her toward the camera. He wanted her to be seen.

I notice that one of Maxine and Leo's four daughters, Jill Louise, is not is the picture. It will be another year and a couple of months before she is born.

In this picture, I notice that Lizzie is trying to smile. But I also notice how she looks a bit uncomfortable. I wonder if perhaps she was thinking about three of her boys (George, Henry and Michael) who were in Europe, fighting in World War II. I wonder how worried she is about two of her other boys (Andrew and Jake) who are in the military but have not yet been called to active duty. I imagine how happy she must have been to have Jake (standing behind her in the picture) home for Easter dinner.

While the family came together to celebrate Easter that day, they had no way of knowing that on that same day, Michael Clarence Hoover was part of bombing mission flying to Tutow, Germany. It was part of a continued assault on the German Air Force to slow their production of FW-190s. Read more about that mission here:

Death Certificate - John Hoover

The picture gave me a moment of pause when I realized that it may be the last photo taken of John Hoover. On May 13, 1944, just one month and four days after the Easter Sunday picture was taken, he would pass away.

His death certificate indicates the cause of death as "crushed chest, fractured skull - trampled by horse."

All of Lizzie's boys would return home from WWII. They would each live well into their seventies or eighties.

Her son Leo, however, would die on March 17, 1953 at the age of 38.

What do you see or imagine or wonder when you look at this picture?

Mary, Elizabeth and Apolonia Feuerstein

Mary (b. 1874), Elizabeth (b. 1881), and Apolinia (b. 1870) were three of eight children born to Kaspar and Catherine (Henninger) Feuerstein.

Their other siblings were Magdalena (b. 1869), John (b. 1872), George (b. 1876), Michael (b. 1878) and Clara (b. 1886 d. 1886).

Mary and Elizabeth (Lizzie) married brothers Frank and John Hoover. Mary and Frank were the parents of Sylvester Hoover.

A note on the back of this photo indicates that the picture was taken in 1891. At that time, Mary was 17 and Elizabeth was just ten. Apolinia would have been twenty or twenty-one.

On June 17, 1893, less than two years after this picture was taken, Apolinia (called Abbie by her family), died. She is buried at St. Mary's Catholic cemetery in Smyrna, Michigan.

According to records on Find A Grave, her headstone is engraved:

22 Years

Daughter of Kaspar

Ten years later, on January 29, 1903, Mary would die at the age of twenty-seven.

Lizzie would live to be 69. She passed away on September 15, 1950. With her husband John Hoover, Lizzie would have eleven children:

  • George Kaspar (1908-1988)

  • Aloysius James (1909-1998)

  • Henry John (1910-1995)

  • Andrew Nelson (1911-1988)

  • Ernest Sebastian (1913-1999)

  • Leo Augustine (1914-1953)

  • Joseph (1915-1915)

  • Catherine Marie (1917-2008)

  • Michael Clarence (1919-2012)

  • Gerald Eugene (1923-2006)

  • Jacob Vincent (1925-2015)

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Born: June 29, 1889; Died: December 13, 1914


Sylvester was the only child of Frank and Mary (Feuerstein) Hoover. Frank was the seventh born but first surviving child of Oliver and Catherine (Schoppey) Hoover. Mary was the forth-born child of Kaspar and Catherine (Henninger) Feuerstein.

Mary passed away on January 29, 1903. Sylvester was just three years old. Mary's death certificate listed her cause of death as Pulmonary Tuberculosis. After Mary's death, Frank and Sylvester resided with Frank's mother Catherine and his siblings.

When he was old enough, Sylvester attended the Pearsall School. Records show that Sylvester also took violin lessons.

Frank farmed alongside his brothers for a few years after Mary's death. But on January 16, 1907, the day after his brother John was married, Frank set west by train, leaving Sylvester (age 7) behind.

After Frank left, Sylvester was cared for by his grandmother Catherine Hoover, his Aunt Caroline (Frank's sister), and later by his Aunt Lizzie and Uncle John Hoover (Frank's brother).


Frank was gone for nearly seven years when Sylvester became ill.

It was the fall of 1914 when Sylvester developed a painful growth on his forehead, close to his eyes. Sylvester was taken to a doctor and was immediately admitted to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 9, 1914.

Sylvester underwent an operation to remove the growth. While recovering in the hospital he was visited by George and Aloysius Hoover (two of John Hoover's sons) who both recalled that Sylvester seemed to be doing well.

While in the hospital, Sylvester developed a new growth on his backside. He never recovered. Sylvester died in the hospital on Sunday, December 13, 1914. He was 15 years old.

Sylvester was buried next to his mother mother at St. Mary's Cemetery in Lowell, Michigan.

After leaving Michigan in 1907, family seldom knew where Frank was or how to reach him. His last known address was 1216 South Evans Street, Aberdeen, Washington. He must have finally made a home for himself. He resided in Aberdeen for approximately 28 years before passing away on November 8, 1949 of natural causes."

No one recalls or knows how Frank learned of the death of his son Sylvester.


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