From the Ancestry
Finding Aunt Gertrude
This week we look at a twentieth-century problem and as such, have changed the names and places of the players.
She evaporated like so many people do. The last reference I had to Aunt Gertrude Hendricks was a 1920 census listing in Adams County, Illinois. She was enumerated as a twenty-seven-year-old housewife, and her family also included husband Charles, daughter Sandra (aged 14), daughter Petunia (aged 12), and son Eldon (aged 7). William and son Eldon were still in Adams County in the 1930 census enumeration, but Gertrude and the girls were not listed. While the girls could easily have been married and living under different last names, locating Gertrude was more problematic. Charles's 1930 marital status was married, not widowed and not divorced.
Gertrude Hendricks versus Charles Hendricks--divorce.
I nearly did the happy dance right there in the courthouse.
I quickly located the file. Gertrude and Charles had been married in Clark County, Missouri, in 1905. They had three children living at the time of the 1925 divorce: a daughter Petunia Noble living near Tioga, Illinois; another daughter (apparently Sandra) living near Wapello, Iowa; and a son (apparently Eldon) living with his father (address unknown). At the time of her divorce Gertrude was living in Keithsburg, Illinois. I now knew more about the family, but I had additional questions.
1930 Census Work
Eyes Open a Door
Gertrude had married a Mr. Brownson after her divorce from Charles
I now had more clues from which to work. Searches of the Connecticut Death Index, at Ancestry.com revealed two matches that appeared to be connected to the granddaughter Jennifer.
According to the Connecticut Death Index, Willi A Greenes died June 1979 in Bartonville, Connecticut. His surviving spouse was listed as Jennifer. Edward A. Cook died in 1985 in New London, Connecticut. His surviving spouse was also listed as Jennifer. His address is listed as 32 Club Street, Bartonville, Connecticut.
It appeared I had located two deceased husbands of granddaughter Jennifer. I was excited.
A reverse phone directory search for the address located a Jennifer and Russell DeMoss currently living there. Perhaps Jennifer had married Russell after Mr. Greene's death. I am contacting her to see if she is the same Jennifer who was the granddaughter of Gertrude.
Gertrude was born 1890 in Hancock County, Illinois, the daughter of Ira and Martha Butler Brownson. She lived in Illinois most of her life except the past five years spent with her granddaughter. She is survived by one son Eldon Hendricks of Beardstown, Illinois. Funeral services will be at the funeral home in Harris City, Illinois.
The obituary lists the last names of Gertrude's parents incorrectly, giving Gertrude's second married name as her maiden name. It is easy to see how such an error could happen, however Gertrude's maiden name was actually Butler.
Gertrude died 1981 in Westerly, Rhode Island, and was buried on the Stephen Schulmeyer lot in the Harris Cemetery near Harris City, Illinois. Gertrude's second husband had been Harry Brownson and her two daughters Sandra Noble and Petunia Schulmeyer predeceased her. It also provided her former residence in Illinois.
I had even more clues from which to work.
For Eldon, it was imperative that I search for obituaries in the place where he died and in the place where he had lived. The second obituary contained details not listed in the first.
In future columns, we'll see just how I was (and was not) able to follow up on some of the leads obtained in my search for Gertrude.
Michael John Neill is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry Magazine and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.rootdig.com/, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.
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