Tag Archives: newspapers

A Second Cousin of a Second Cousin

A couple years ago after researching as thoroughly as possible, I had decided my family was not related to the infamous outlaw, Jesse James. But, after finding this newspaper article recently, I’ve brought out all of my research again.

To be clear, the man interviewed happens to also be named Jesse James. He is not the outlaw, but he is definitely my grandfather’s cousin.

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Click here for source.

The Smallest of Clues

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This snippet from the 1940 Federal Census looks pretty innocent, just another happy little family snuggled between neighbors on a page. Ralph, my paternal grandfather, worked for the government; Gladys, my step-grandmother, ran a beauty salon; the two little girls no doubt held hands as they skipped to school together.

But see the circled X after Ralph’s name? That’s the census taker’s way of indicating the person in the household that was interviewed. If you looked at the rest of this page you’d notice that all of the other circled Xs punctuate the ends of the wives’ names. It’s strange, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be (it wouldn’t be strange now), but imagine if Ward from Leave It To Beaver were home accepting house guests while June was at the office. What’s a county engineer doing at home on a Wednesday afternoon in early spring (the census was dated April 2)? Aren’t there potholes to fill and levies to strengthen along the Missouri River in anticipation of flooding?

That little circled X was my first clue that things were off in my grandfather’s household.

Here’s a few more columns of that same census record:

1940 Census employment columns

The “75” in Gladys’s row indicates the number of hours she worked in the salon the week before the census was taken. Whew! She’s working hard. The “Yes” in the row above, in Ralph’s row, is the answer to the census taker’s question “Are you currently seeking work?”

Oh. Well, ok then. That makes sense. Poor guy is looking for work. The listing of his previous career made me think his job loss was recent, so I went hunting in the local newspaper and found the following little side note in a rather lengthy front page article entitled: “BOARD RAISES SALARIES OF SIX PERSONS”:

Ralph James resigns

Why would my grandfather resign from a position he held for over 10 years on the very day the county board was deciding on all of his coworkers’ salaries? It just doesn’t add up…

but I have answers. Here’s the next installment, Baby-daddy.


For sources on the documents mentioned in this post, click here.

This post’s featured image shows Ralph James, my grandfather, on the right with his brother and sister.

“Clothes Found On Creek Bed” – Conrad Benner Part 2

1. %22Clothing Found on Creek Bank,%22 Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 2, col. 4, par. 1 2. %22Clothing Found on Creek Bank,%22 Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 2, col. 4, par. 1

This article ran on page 2 of the Evansville Courier and Press, the same day as “Wife and Baby Left By Husband.” My poor 2nd great-grandaunt, Zella, had to go through the emotional roller coaster that the discovery of these clothes must have brought on while trying to stay strong for her daughter and cope with the mysteries her husband left behind.

On July 5, 1901—two days later—another article ran in the paper saying “The police have not yet recovered information regarding the whereabouts of Conrad Benner. Benner left his home…on Saturday night and has not been seen since.”

I do not have a neat and tidy ending for this story. I don’t know why Conrad left. I do know it seems to end happily for him and his family, though:

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Whatever it was, they worked it out because there Conrad is with Zella (the census taker wrote her name as “Celoa”) and his baby girl Hazel in the 1910 US Census, nine years after his disappearance. You can see in the two columns on the far right that he is employed as a salesman in a grocery store. As far as I know, he did not disappear again.

1910 United States Federal Census, database: Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 Nov 2015); entry for Conrad Benner, b. 1867, Evansville, Vanderburgh County, IN; Roll: T624_383; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0117; FHL microfilm: 1374396.

“Benner Still Missing,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 5 Jul 1901, p. 3, col. 7, par. 3; accessed on genealogybank.com 12 Sep 2015.

“Clothing Found on Creek Bank,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 2, col. 4, par. 1; accessed on genealogybank.com 12 Sep 2015.

“Wife and Baby Left By Husband”


This article ran on the front page of the Evansville Courier and Press in Evansville, Indiana, on July 3, 1901. Conrad Benner is my 2nd great-granduncle. I’ll share more about this story soon.

(source: “Wife and Baby Left By Husband,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 1, col. 3, par. 2; accessed on genealogybank.com 12 Sep 2015)

Click here for more on this story.