A Resurrection

A while back, I plugged in a simple family tree on the genealogy website MyHeritage and signed up for their notification emails. I like that, even though I’m not a paying member, the emails update me on records the site has found for my ancestors.

Here’s a recent one I received showing a hit on a 2nd great-granduncle, Thomas Grace:

As you can see, this newspaper hit is for an article that ran in Prescott, Arizona, but I know that Thomas Grace lived near Parma, Missouri, all his life. Why would a Missouri man’s obituary run in an Arizona newspaper?

Since I’m not a member of My Heritage, I searched on the internet and found free issues of the Prescott Evening Courier on Google Newspapers.

This article is from the November 12, 1938, edition of the newspaper.

Turns out Tommy is mentioned because his daughter, Trulia Grace Head (that’s a whopper of a name, right?), and his brother Charles were living in Prescott at the time.

This standard funeral notice is an ASTOUNDING find for me because it resurrected an ancestor that I had presumed dead.

My 2nd great-grandmother is Fanny Grace. She appears with my great-grandfather in the 1900 census. But in the 1910 census, she disappears.

Her husband, Edward Romine, had remarried in 1901. In most of her son Albert Clayton’s records, Edward’s second wife is listed as his mother. So, I concluded that Fannie had passed away.

But, Nate, no one named Fanny is listed in this obituary.

True. But listed in the survivors is a sister named Mary Price. The thing is, based on Fannie and Thomas’s father’s military records, Thomas only had one sister. Fannie.

So I believe Mary and Fannie are the same person. Perhaps my great-grandmother’s full name was Mary Frances Grace.

There are a few things I can do now that I know Thomas had a sister living in 1938. I can search for Mary Prices, which you know I already tried. There’s only one Mary Price in Nevada, Missouri, in the 1940 census, and I’ve proven she isn’t my gal.

I can try to find divorce records from around 1900 from the Parma area now that I know Fannie didn’t die. I can check the obituaries of Fanny’s siblings who passed after Tommy to see if she is listed and where she is living. I can check the Missouri Vital Records website to see if any Mary Prices are my 2nd great-grandmother.

Do you have any other suggestions? I would love to hear them!

Sources for this entry will appear here shortly.

Telling Strangers Your Life Story, or Why Not to Go Whole Hog on Census Records

Genealogists are magicians. Don’t believe me? Watch as I make my Aunt Barbara disappear before your eyes!

In my ongoing search to learn about my grandfather, Ralph James‘s life, I came across a newspaper article that stated the date of his first marriage to Gladys Hooker. With the discovery of that date came an intriguing story problem:

If Gladys and Ralph married in 1931 and, according to the 1940 census, their first born daughter was born in 1928, then was [their first child] Barbara born out of wedlock or was she some other man’s baby girl?

First let’s all run back to that census record excerpt:

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 3.54.32 PM

Thanks to the Interwebz, I discovered my answerBarbara Schmidt announcement quickly AND gained another source on Gladys’s family. It seems Gladys had been married before, and that my Aunt Barbara’s last name wasn’t really James. She was no relation to me. (Presto! The author takes a bow.) Why the discrepancy? Well, think of it from Ralph’s perspective:

A stranger knocks on your door. He takes off his fedora as you greet him; he carries a clipboard. You think you are in for a sales pitch on the benefits of owning encyclopedias, but you let him in and offer him a cup of coffee anyway. He explains he’s a census taker and must ask you personal questions about your family and your life. It is all for the sake of government data at a time when the world is at war, so you oblige.

One of his questions is “What are the names of each person who regularly resides here?” You begin with facts about yourself, then your wife. You say your step-daughter’s name. You see the census taker write down your last name as hers. Do you explain? Before you decide, he’s already asking you other questions. He probably has many other households to get through today, and besides, Barbara’s father isn’t in the picture. She may as well have your last name. You leave it alone.

It’s understandable, yes?

But now I don’t completely trust what’s on the census record. How do I know little Geraldine is truly RA Daughter - Jerry Jamesalph’s daughter? I continue looking in the newspaper archives until I find it, my half-aunt’s birth announcement on February 12, 1932. There’s still the ordering of the birth certificate to deal with, but chances are it’s true.

That is, until I find this record:
first divorce announcement

Story problem #2: A newspaper article and a census record support the fact that Geraldine James was born February 11, 1932. Another article claims that her parents were married 8 months before little Jerry arrived. A third article (see last week’s post) claims her parents were married 11 months before. The articles also disagree on the location of Gladys and Ralph’s nuptials. So, which date and place are right, and is Ralph Jerry’s father?

Read the next installment of this story.

 

Confused? Start at the beginning of this series.

All sources for the documents mentioned can be found here.

Looking for a more formal biography of my ancestors? Whoo hoo! I thought of that, too.