The Rasmussen Siblings, Leonard & Marie of Minnesota

Leonard Luvern Rasmussen, the elder, born in 3 days before Christmas in 1912 in Filmore county, Minnesota. Marie Francis Rasmussen, the younger, born in on Christmas day in 1913 also in Minnesota. Siblings almost exactly one year apart! Parents: George … Continue reading

Dorothy Mills, truly the baby of the family

Dorothy Mills, 1934, about 18 years old

Dorothy Mills, 1934, about 18 years old

Meet Dorothy Mills, 18 in this photo of the class of 1934 from Williamsville Township High School. Born in 1916, she was the last child of John Mills and Lydia Sparks. The year of her birth her father was almost 60 and her mother over 40. Dorothy’s oldest sibling Flora was born in 1890. Then Bertha, Winifred, Mary, Helen and finally Dorothy. The family lived all their live in Williams, Illinois where John and son Winifred were farmers.

In 1928, when her father died, Dorothy and mother Lydia went to live with Winifred and his wife Cecelia and children. They lived with them at least through the 1930 and 1940 census in Williams. Dorothy’s mother passed away in 1947. John and Lydia, and many other members of the Mills family, are buried in Wolf Creek Cemetery in Sangamon county. I did not find a Dorothy Mills there.

I don’t know what happened to Dorothy. In 1940, she was still single and worked in “domestic work” with 4 years of high school. Did she ever marry and have kids of her own? Hopefully family can fill in the blanks.

…rie Pettiford, A sad story for a Valentine’s day baby and her mother

Wakeman High School 1932

Wakeman High School class of 1932

“…rie Pettiford” turned out to be Marie Pettiford. The class photo you see on the left has most of the first name of each person cut off. I wasn’t sure how easy they would be to find. But the last person on the list was also the only black person in the class. So when I looked for a female, unmarried Pettiford born around 1914 who lived in Huron County, Ohio one person came up. And luckily her first name ended in “rie”!

Marie E. Pettiford was born on Valentine’s day 1914 to Herman E. Pettiford and Myrtle Stafford. Her father was a barber. She had one brother, Robert who was about 3 years older than Marie. Her family lived in Wakeman all her life. They are in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census. However by 1930 her father was a widow. Myrtle died in 1921 at age 28. The death certificate states the cause of death was exophthalmic goiter. Huh? I had never of heard of this. One website defines it as “hyperthyroidism with protrusion of the eyeballs.” I’ll let you google the images.

Marie Pettiford, age 18. One year before her death.

Marie Pettiford, age 18. One year before her death.

Her daughter was even younger when she died. The lovely Marie Pettiford died at age 19, one year after this photo was taken. On March 22, 1933, according to the death certificate, Marie died of a heart attack due to “surgical shock” during a laparotomy. A laparotomy was basically abdominal surgery. Why she was having surgery is unknown, maybe some form of hyperthyroidism like her mother. Whatever the reason, her body couldn’t take it.

By 1940 her father and brother are living together and working as barber’s in Mr. Pettiford’s barber shop; feeling quite lucky to be alive I imagine.

An Update on Cora & Ethel

A reader with questions prompted me to do a little more digging on a photo I gave up on too fast. Here’s the result:

On the original post of Cora and Ethel, I had a grand time finding out to Cora was but remained stumped on Ethel. I was so thrilled to have found Cora with her two last names that I stopped early. But Ethel has now been identified, because she was sitting next door to Cora in 1900 all this time.

Ethel Thompson was born in Michigan in 1882. The middle child of Hiram & Libbie Thompson, although there may have been some older siblings that had left the home. In 1900 when Ethel was 17, her father was 62 and her mother 57.

Here’s the Find A Grave memorial.

Welcome Ethel!

Magdalene Weinman #68 at the Westbrook Academy, a stenographer

Magdalene Weinman, Westbrook Commercial Academy, 1924-25

Magdalene Weinman, Westbrook Commercial Academy, 1924-25

Magdalene had a very sweet young face. She was about 21 or 22 in this photo. She would soon be a full time stenographer at the Gouranda State Homes Hospital in Erie, New York. But in 1925 she lived with her family. Father: Charles Weinman (1871-1941), mother Christina Frey (1873-1965) and brother LeRoy (1904-1980). For all of Magdalene’s life up until 1930 she lived in Wellsville, Allegeny, New York – right next to the county where Westbrook Commercial Academy was. She was the first of two children, born the year after they were married, 1903.

Unfortunately I know little about Magdalene past the 1930 census. Wait, make that nothing. I know nothing past 1930. :(  In 1940 her parents were still in Wellsville and her father would pass away a year later. Both Charles and Christina are buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wellsville. Did she marry? Did she die? Did she move? Right now I have no answers, hopefully a family member does. It seems odd that there is information on every other family member other than Magdalene after 1930, but sometime that’s just how it goes.

Arthur Gordon – but which one??

Arthur E. Gordon, 1931 Plymouth High School

Arthur E. Gordon, 1931 Plymouth High School

This handsome gent is likely Arthur Gordon, son of William and Anna Gordon. It’s not a terribly uncommon name, but identification is compounded by the fact that no Arthur Gordon lived in Plymouth directly. This one, or the one I suspect him to be, lived in Highland Park, Wayne county, Michigan. That’s about 30 miles from Plymouth. Too far for a high schooler to travel? Probably in 1930. By 1940, that family lived in Detroit, very close to Highland Park. There’s also the very little issue of the middle initial. In all the documentation of Arthur (son of William and Anna) he had the middle initial of F., not E. When it’s all you have to go on a middle initial gains some weight in the game!

Now to really confuse things: An Arthur “F” Gordon born January 23, 1914 died on new year’s day 1995. He lived in Wayne, Michigan. Then again, an Arthur “E” Gordon born on February 22, 1914 died on February 11, 1999 in Detroit. Hmmmm. Maybe a family member will know which Arthur Gordon is really in this picture.

Ruth Smith, a little more than a simple farmer’s daughter

Ruth Smith, 1908 Seneca High School

Ruth Smith, 1908 Seneca High School

Kansas was a good place to be a farmer, at least for the Smith family. Ruth (pictured here in the 1908 freshman class photo of Seneca High School) was the daughter of William Smith and Mary Amos. My assessment of a “good place” comes from the fact that I’ve never seen a farmer with such a consistent supply of servants – usually that’s what the kids were for! Here’s a little background.

William, originally from New Hampshire, married Mary Amos (from Ohio) in 1885 in Nemaha, Kansas – same county as Seneca. They had 4 children – not nearly enough to run a farm on. Frank the oldest was born in 1887, Amos in 1888, Ruth in 1893, and Agnes in 1895. Every census year, with the exception of 1910, a servant lived with the Smith family. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1895, 16 year old Lena Haug from Germany
  • 1900, Barney Burdick, also from Germany
  • 1905, 20 year old Josephine Bockman of German
  • 1910, none – I think Mary was getting tired of the pretty young ones ;)
  • 1920, 75 year old black man named Bob Mason (Mary did the hiring that year)
  • 1925, 16 year old Rosa was listed as the housekeeper

Quite a list for a simple farmer! But back to Ruth. Ruth Amos Smith lived at home through 1915. Before 1920 she married Clinton W. Kanaga and they had one child at the time of that census in Kansas city, Issouri. By 1930 they had 2 more children and lived in Witchita, Kansas. Clinton was in advertising for the music retail industry apparently. 1940 saw the Kanaga family back in Kansas City. It also mentions on this census that Ruth had 4 years of college – another sign that her father was a successful farmer.

According to the SSDI, Ruth died in May of 1988 and Clinton in 1977. While I didn’t find an obituary for either of them, there is a lengthy obituary for their son, Clinton Jr. who passed away in 2006. What an active and colorful life he led, I wonder if he got that from his mom?

Viola Bennel or Bennet or Bennett? Ahh, handwriting…

Viola Bennett, 1908 Seneca, KS

Viola Bennett, 1908 Seneca, KS

I think this is Viola Bennett. Viola was a freshman at Seneca High School in Kansas in 1908. She is identified in this class photo as #2 and as you can tell the name written by #2 appears to be Viola Bennel. However, as you can probably guess, I found no evidence of a Viola Bennel anywhere near Seneca, Nemaha county, Kansas in 1908. I could however find a Viola Bennett.

Whoever wrote this list of names was rather lax with the crossing of the t’s.

The list of names

The list of names

If you look at some of the other names,  #1 Ruth Smith for example, the t is barely crossed.  #5, Floyd Carpenter, almost looks like Carpenlir. You get the picture. So, when I found a Viola Bennett, born in 1894 in Kansas, living in Nemaha county from 1905 to 1920, I was fairly confident this was our girl. An important point to remember, you never know how much information an anonymous writer of information has.

Here’s what I can tell you about Viola Bennett – her parents were William Bennett (1863-1910) and Theresia Grollmes (1870-1954). Viola was the oldest of about 6 or 7 children. Her parents married in Nebraska, but the family lived in Kansas all her life. Between 1920-1925 she married John Edgar Sparling and they settled in Oneida, Kansas. They had at least one child, possibly more. Viola died relatively early in 1958, just a few years after her mother.

Here’s to hoping we’ve got the right Viola!

“Sig”, could this man have been my grandfather?

Here are more photos of a young gentleman from my grandmother’s high school memory book. His name is Seignor Jernigan. All I really know about his from her book is that he gave her a Kodak for her graduation gift, there are quite a few photos of him (more than any other young man), and based on local newspaper clippings, they visited quite often ;) He wasn’t in her class, he was two years older. These photos were taken in 1930. And it looks an awful lot like a courtship if you ask me.

But it wasn’t meant to be. While they have some lovely photos together and clearly did a lot of visiting – couldn’t get away with anything that a small town Texas newspaper wouldn’t talk about in 1930 – they were bound for different paths. My grandmother, as valedictorian of her class, had multiple scholarship offers to college and eventually graduated from the University of Texas. Seignor completed high school but went into ranching and farming and WWII from there. Holly would marry my grandfather in 1934 and lived in Houston, Texas most of their married life. Seignor married Johnnie and would spend his adult live in Mills county – the same small town where these pictures were taken. It appears Seignor died in 1987 in Lampassas, Texas; his wife Johnnie about 8 years later.

It’s always odd to think about what might have been. But even stranger to consider who I might have been if my grandmother and/or Seignor has choosen a different path. My grandfather, Howard, was such a large and positive presence in my life that I can’t even fathom it. But in 1930, none of that mattered.

Roy Clarke, at 15 he already looks like a future accountant

Roy Clarke, Manierre School, 1910

Roy Clarke, Manierre School, 1910

Lest you think I’ve been focusing too heavily on the young ladies, here’s a male student from the Manierre school. Like his classmate, he was about 15 in this photo (born January 9, 1896) and lived in Ward 22. Roy Clarke was actually Leroy Rudolf Clarke, and yes he would grow up to be a bookkeeper (among other things).

Roy never married and had no children so I doubt there are any descendants searching for him, but he deserves a little history nonetheless. Roy was the son of John H. Clarke and Louise Dahnke. Born in Illinois, he had one older brother Harry. I don’t know if Harry ever married. In 1900 and 1910 the family lived in Ward 22 of Chicago where dad John was a teamster. In 1900 his aunt Alta also lived with them.

By 1920, Roy was working as a bookkeeper, still living with his parents, as was his brother. Both dad and brother were chauffeurs. 1930, in Ward 39 now, Roy was keeping books, Harry had moved on, but grandma Dahnke (maternal grandmother) lived with the family. She would die in 1935 and is buried in Montrose Cemetery in Chicago.

1940, maybe because of the depression, who knows, Roy was no long a bookkeeper but doing “odd jobs, house cleaning”. Even on his WWII draft reg card he listed his profession as “odd jobs”. This could not have been very fulfilling for the no-longer-so-young 44 year old Roy. He was still at home and unmarried.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Roy died in Peoria, IL in October of 1975. His brother had died about 10 years earlier in 1964.