Monday, June 18, 2018

52 Ancestors: Effie Times Two

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is “Same Name.” For YEARS I have known my father’s paternal grandmother as “Mary Effie Morrison Slade.” We always thought it was funny that her sister was also named Effie, Effie Mae to be exact. As young wives and mothers, Mary Effie Morrison Slade and Effie Mae Morrison Hanrahan lived next door to one another at 416 and 418 Randolph Street in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Mary Morrison Slade
Mary Morrison Slade
at her son Fred Slade Sr's house
7 Tanner Place, Portsmouth, VA
My research into my dad’s side of the family has been sporadic; results have been little. Brick walls aplenty! It’s time to shine the light on Mary “Effie” Morrison Slade.

Census records indicate that Mary Morrison was born about 1878 in Tennessee. However, I cannot find her there in 1880. By 1900 she was already married to my great-grandfather Stephen Slade and living in Princess Anne County, now Virginia Beach. Virginia has made death records available online, but OF COURSE Mary Morrison’s is not there! Fortunately, her sister’s is. Effie’s daughter Frances Evelyn Hanrahan Williams named her mother’s parents as Robert Morrison and Evelyn Hosier.

When searches for Robert and Evelyn together came up empty, I tried searching for them separately. Robert Morrison produced just too many hits, so I tried Evelyn Hosier. There was nothing promising there either as most of the Evelyn Hosiers were an older Evelyn married to a man named Hosier.

I have had good luck with birth records at FamilySearch, so I tried my hand with “Effie Morrison.” BINGO. Up popped “Effa Morrison,” born to Robert Morrison and NOT Evelyn BUT Cornelia F. 

from FamilySearch

Then all these little Morrison children popped up: Emma, Kate M., an unnamed Male child, and Rosa V. But no Mary Effie. All were born in Norfolk, Nansemond County, Virginia. Not a one in Tennessee.

Did the Morrisons move to Tennessee for a short period and then return to the same spot in Virginia? That does not seem reasonable to me.

The only time Robert and Cornelia Morrison appear in a census together is 1880 with one child: Kate M.  Could this be my Mary Morrison? Was she Katherine Mary? Mary Katherine? Mary Kate? Not Mary Effie at all? I cannot help thinking that since those other children were registered, surely Mary would have been also.
1880 Western Branch, Nansemond Co, VA
Another argument that Kate M could be Mary is that there is no other sign of Kate after the 1880 census. The other children all died in infancy, and their deaths are listed in the death index on FamilySearch. Had Kate died, certainly her death would have been noted as well.

A recent reminder to review old notes was spot on in pointing out the obvious. I went to Find-a-Grave to double-check Mary Morrison Slade’s death date on her tombstone. Whoever created the memorial posted her name as “Mary Cornelius Morrison Slade.” If I were a betting gal, I would bet they meant “Cornelia.” Then when I looked again at census records, I saw she was entered as “Mary C. Slade.” I had always assumed the “C” was the result of either enumerator error or error in transcription. Now I have a new thought.
Tombstone of Stephen Slade and Mary Morrison Slade
Olive Branch Cemetery, Portsmouth, VA
photo courtesy of Steve Poole
While I will not say conclusively “case closed,” I have corrected my database replacing “Mary Effie” with “Mary Cornelia.” Still, my gut feeling is that she and Kate were one and the same. Maybe “Kate” was just a cute nickname.

While I’m tossing out theories, here is another one in answer to the question, “Why did Effie’s daughter Frances Evelyn think her grandmother’s name was Evelyn Hosier?” I imagine she was told she was named after her grandmother. In Frances Evelyn’s mind, that must have meant the name “Evelyn.” In the birth and death records of her children, Cornelia Morrison was always listed as Cornelia F. In 1860, there was no Cornelia Hosier but there was a Frances, age 8, living with parents Richard and Sarah, and a passel of siblings. In 1870, Cornelia age 17 was in the household, but no Frances. Her name was apparently Cornelia Frances Hosier. Not Evelyn.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 4, 2018

52 Ancestors: Going to the Chapel - Or Not

This week’s theme for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge is “Going to the Chapel.” What perfect timing to share a recent research problem and how our challenge leader Amy Johnson Crow helped me solve it.

My enthusiasm for researching my Irish ancestors returned when a new record popped up for the sister of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh. The sister is Johanna Sheehan Hederman (or Heatherman!). Her story always makes me sad because only 2 of her 7 children
Possibly Johanna Sheehan Hederman and children Catherine and John
Possibly Johanna Sheehan Hederman
with children Catherine and John
survived into adulthood; the others did not live more than a couple years, if that long.

The older of the two children was Catherine who married Charles Fraundorf on August 18, 1908. They had one daughter, Gertrude born in 1916. The little family appeared in the expected New York census records for 1920, 1925, 1930 and 1940. After that, my online searches found little more than dates of death for Charles and Catherine. A few newspaper articles revealed Charles was active in the Knights of Columbus and local politics. But there was nothing new about Gertrude.

Just this past week in a fit of boredom, I opened Ancestry and did a general search for Fraundorf. What a surprise to find a listing for good ol’ Gertrude in the New York State Marriage Index. She married on April 21, 1940 in Long Beach, Nassau County, New York. Long Beach had been the Fraundorfs’ home at least since 1935. However, any celebration over the thought of new leads to follow came to a halt when the index gave me the husband’s name as Vivian Hennekey. 

Surely New York was not so progressive in 1940 to be granting marriage licenses to lesbians. Still, I clicked Miss Hennekey’s name, which took me to a page that revealed a different marriage date and location. She did not marry Gertrude Fraundorf after all! The cause of confusion is clearly the illegible certificate number.

Back to the search I went and plugged in the certificate number, “7882.” It gave me Vivian Hennekey again. So maybe the certificate number was NOT 7882, but no other number I tried gave me Gertrude Fraundorf AND someone other than Vivian.

During a Facebook group chat with Amy Johnson Crow, I posed the question, “Is there a workaround to find the correct couple in the New York State Marriage index 1881-1967?” As soon as Amy pulled up the index on her screen, she saw the problem with the smudged certificate numbers. She studied the screen and said, “Try entering just the exact day, month, year and location, no names.”

That is what I did. And it worked. Two brides and 2 grooms married on April 21, 1940 in Long Beach. (Not surprisingly, NONE of their marriage certificate numbers are clear.) 

Wallace Beers and Rita Lay married and lived happily ever after. They are even buried happily ever after together. Their descendants have shared family trees on Ancestry.

So that left Gertrude plus Salvatore DeLucia.

If, like me, you think surely a name like Salvatore DeLucia and Gertrude DeLucia would be easy to find, think again. Apparently there is an unwritten rule that Italian families - especially the DeLucias - must name a son “Salvatore.”

With an April wedding, Sal and Gert could have been in the census together in 1940, but apparently they were not. In fact, Gertrude was still at home with her parents, probably fully engulfed in wedding planning, when the enumerator came around about 3 weeks before the big day.

Possibly Catherine Fraundorf and Gertrude
Believed to be Catherine and Gertrude Fraundorf
With no supporting facts to go on, it is impossible to sift through the numerous Salvatore DeLucias and Lucias and DeLucios and Luccios and DeLucas to come to a logical conclusion about the husband of Gertrude Fraundorf. Was he born in Italy or was he an American-born son of Italian immigrants? Was he about Gertrude’s age or did she marry a much older man? My research indicates the older Salvatores were also very married with families in 1940. The single Salvatores were mostly children, too young to marry in 1940.

The best candidate for a husband was the Salvatore DeLucia who was an Italian immigrant son of Italian immigrants Angelo and Rose DeLucia. This Salvatore was born in Italy in 1908, arrived in the United States in 1914, and was naturalized by 1930. He was still single in 1940 and only slightly older than Gertrude. The fact that he was living in the right neighborhood at the right time to have met and courted Gertrude Fraundorf makes him the most likely suspect.

BUT - There is NOTHING to say I am right and EVERYTHING to say I am wrong. Family trees on Ancestry put Salvatore not with Gertrude Fraundorf but with Theresa Botticelli - MARRIED and BURIED together. The ONE and only ONE piece of information that keeps this Sal in the running is that he and Miss Botticelli married in 1947, seven years after Gertrude and whichever Salvatore married.

Did Gertrude die young? Could Gertrude and Salvatore have called off the wedding? Could they have married and later divorced? If so, that would have been tough for a couple of Catholics.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Leave It to Beavers

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of children standing in a flooded street reminded me of a photo from my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan’s album. In both photos the light caught the small waves creating the look of broken glass.

Mrs. Beavers Page County, VA about 1920s

However, I am not convinced that this woman was standing in water. Maybe it is only illusion created by the play of light and shadow. On the same page of the album is a companion photo. The man is clearly standing on rock. River rock. OK, so maybe the woman was indeed standing in the water nearby. But why? Why would someone do that?
Mr. Beavers Page County, VA about 1920s

But the more pressing issues for me are why Violetta took photos of these people in the first place and who they were to her.

They are identified simply as Mrs. Beavers and Mr. Beavers. That is not a name in our family tree. In setting about to solve this mini-mystery, I made several assumptions.
  • They were likely neighbors or friends of the family.
  • They were likely Violetta’s parents’ generation, not her friends since she called them “Mr.” and “Mrs.”
  • They likely lived in Page County or Rockingham County.
  • The photo was taken likely between 1919 and 1925.

The census records from 1910 through 1940 show that the Beaver-no S families of Page County lived in Luray or just outside Luray in the community of Marksville. In Rockingham, there were Beaver-no S families in the town of Broadway. I was disappointed not to find them in any area closer to Shenandoah, the town where Violetta and parents lived. More than disappointed, I am just confused about how the families would have known each other.

I checked my three copies of The School Ma’am, yearbooks from the Harrisonburg Teachers College where Violetta and her sister Velma attended, hoping maybe a Beaver daughter was a student there also. No such luck.

Since Luray is closer to Shenandoah than is Broadway, I decided to concentrate on just the Page County Beavers. I ruled out those who would have looked older than Mr. and Mrs. Beavers did in the 1920s. I also ruled out those who would have been close to Violetta’s age as surely she would not have called her contemporaries “Mr.” or “Mrs.” I was left with a handful of names but no answers.

My next stop was Find A Grave. There I found a photo of a man who just might be our “Mr. Beavers.”
John William Beaver
Findagrave photo courtesy Justin S. )
What do you think? Could they be the same man? His birth year puts him in the correct generation (that is, IF my assumptions are correct).

There is also a photo of a young Mrs. Beaver, but it is impossible to determine how she would have aged.
Emma Row Beaver
Findagrave photo courtesy Justin S. )

IF by some strange luck I identified the correct family, then this is John William Beaver and his wife Emma Row. John was son of John Pendleton Beaver, a Civil War Veteran, and Virginia Graves. Again, IF this is the correct family, then John William Beaver was grandson of Paschal Graves, an unusual and unforgettable name - to me, anyway. Why? Because the administrators of the estate of Paschal Graves were involved in a lawsuit against Fielding Jollett, my 3X great-grandfather. However, I doubt this is the kind of story that a young Violetta would even have known about. Even if she were aware, the case was over long before this picture was taken.

I have contacted the woman who posted some photos of John and Emma Beaver on Ancestry to see if she will compare my photos to others she might have of her grandparents. Then I will know whether to pat myself on the back or return to wondering who this Mrs. Beavers was and why she was standing in water.

I encourage you to visit the others at Sepia Saturday and flood them with comments.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.