Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday's Obituary ~ Lela M Ritchie

Lela Mabel Saurer Ritchie
Born March 21, 1913
Died November 26, 1991






Lela was Grandma Ritchie to me, so of course I remember her mostly like this -

 I do have some wonderful pictures of her at a younger age, including this one in which she looks exactly like my baby sister at the same early age.

 This is her high school graduation picture so it would have been taking in 1930.

After that she went to Cleveland to nursing school

However life and motherhood intervened and she didn't finish nursing school.  Here is an early picture of her with her husband, David W Ritchie.

As I'm working on organizing my genealogy "stuff" I am currently going through many things that came from Grandma.  She had so many pictures from her family - aunts and uncles that never married.  She used to go through the box and tell me who they all were.  One time, when I was fairly young, I remember her saying, "When I'm gone no one is going to even know who the people in these pictures are."  I told her, "I WILL!  Just keep telling me."  I loved going through the old pictures with her.  And I DO know who they all are.

Sunday’s Obituary is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. 

To participate in Sunday’s Obituary, post obituaries along with other information about that person. This is an ongoing series developed by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What We Are Looking For Can Determine What We Find – Part Two

So, when last we left our incredibly intelligent, dazzlingly beautiful and thin heroine, (hey, it’s my blog, I’ll be who- and whatever I want to be!!) she had just signed up for one of Michael John Neill’s classes on “Organizing Genealogical Information.”

Our first class assignment had to do with charts. Michael gave us many examples of using charts to help solve a specific problem or to get a clearer picture of an issue. We were to create a chart dealing with one of our own problems. Hah, I thought. I’ll show him that charts can’t help with everything.

 So, Mr. Herbert Amos Evans became the focus of my chart. The first thing I put in my chart was what I did know.  I would then make rows for missing information along with ideas about what records to search. It wouldn’t take long because I had precious like known information. I quickly recorded what I had from the marriage register and the 1910 census. That census was particularly unhelpful. My guess was that the information was provided by Gertrude as her place of birth and her parents’ places of birth are correctly listed while Herbert and his parents are listed as being born in “the United States.” (Another reason I had decided on the dead end scenario years ago.) I even included the information from my Mother’s baby book with the caveat that it was most probably supplied by someone who had never met any of the people involved.

Finally I thought about those divorce papers I mentioned yesterday. I didn’t know that they would be all that worthwhile because Herbert had never appeared or answered the complaint so none of the information would have come from him. I did vaguely remember an advertisement being put in a Chicago paper so I decided to go over them and see if there was any information to record in my nifty chart. The Chicago information was no help – it states that the summons was sent, “…in an envelope addressed to Herbert Amos Evans at Chicago, Illinois.” I can’t imagine the point of that as there had to be a number of people with the same name.

In spite of that, I kept reading, and there, staring me right in the face, was the fact that he was last known to be living with his mother IN CONNEAUT, OHIO! Seriously that must have spontaneously appeared in the record just as I was reading it because surely it was never there before. Of course, before I was so focused on Gertrude and Ruth that I clearly just skimmed over that little nugget of information.

As another odd coincidence, I had been working on something on Find-A-Grave and since I was there I just decided to search on the off change that Alma might be buried there. Normally this would not be my first research strategy, but I was on the site so I typed in "Evans" and filled in the county in Ohio where Conneaut is located – and up popped not only a memorial, but one with a picture of the stone AND her maiden name AND the names of her parents! She is buried with her husband – whose name is John, not Henry but in further research I did over the weekend, I am convinced this is the right person.  Her name, incidentally, is Almeda.

All of this allowed me to find, on FamilySearch, Herbert’s first wife and his third wife, both of whom he married in Ohio. I had been half-heartedly doing random searched in Minnesota. I had even listed searching Minnesota marriages and divorces to find his first marriage in my chart as a research strategy.

I am SO very excited to have this “new” family to research. Many of my previously know lines have only been in the country since the mid-1800’s and I have most all of those fairly quickly back to the immigrant ancestor. I even have some generations back in a few of the countries of origin. This will allow me to do research in the US much farther back than I’ve ever gone before – which is just a very exciting prospect for me. Interestingly enough, that memorial on Find-A-Grave was only put up earlier this year. So I guess the time was just right for me to find good ole Herbert.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What We Are Looking For Can Determine What We Find – Part One

I once saw a television show about child prodigies. One of the interesting things they talked about was that we see what we are looking for. If we are only looking for children who are super good in math or science or even in athletics, we fail to see or appreciate children with a remarkable gift for say compassion. One of the analogies offered was that if you go into a grocery store with a small list, you will only come out with a small number of items. [Obviously none of those people had ever met me, but I digress…]

In genealogy when we are looking for something specific, we can fail to notice interesting facts that aren’t related to our current inquiry. I’ve learned this lesson before, but as with many lessons, apparently I needed to learn it again. So here’s the story – or maybe more of a confession – of how I solved a “brick wall” starting with information that was in my own files. [It’s in quotes specifically for James Tanner who has blog about this concept a number of times including here.]

This particular brick wall is named Herbert Amos Evans. He is my great-grandfather – the father of my mother’s birth mother, Ruth Evans. I really didn’t expect this branch to be so problematic. My mother's birth certificate shows her mother as Ruth Penrose Evans, who is listed as being born in Broomfield, Colorado. On top of that I have my mother's baby book with the section for "Baby's Ancestry" nicely filled out.  So tracing this line should be a piece of cake, right? Nope, not even close.

The first dilemma was that while Ruth was born in Colorado I was unable to find an Evans family that looked right in the 1910 or 1920 census in the Denver area . The first time I searched I was immediately rewarded with a family that had a “Ruth” of exactly the correct age. Unfortunately the parents were all wrong as was the information on where everyone had been born. This was a nice Welsh family that I could trace forward and back – NOT my Evans family. I also searched for the Evans parents listed, Henry and Alma, thinking that possibly they also lived in Colorado – no such luck.

Years went by from the time I did that first search and then one day as I was searching on the Colorado State Archives site for my Colorado grandparents' divorce. I typed in “Evans, Anna” – Herbert’s wife – on a lark and there was a divorce case listed! I felt fairly confident, in spite of the common name because the husband was listed as Hurbert A and Anna was listed as “Anna Gertrude” and finally the timing was so perfect. It was not going to be cheap – I actually called the Archives before I ordered to find out what I was signing up for – but I HAD to have this information so off went the check.

After waiting an eternity in genealogy time, which was about a week or two in calendar time, I received a thick packet in the mail. I tore into it and rapidly read through the contents with things jumping out at me like, “married in Shoshone, Idaho” and “deserted me in Portland, Oregon” and “gave me money to return to my father’s home in Broomfield.” My head was spinning to say the least. Because Gertrude was born in Colorado, as was her daughter, it never occurred to me to look anywhere else. Here she had been roaming around other states getting married and having children!

With this information I was able to find Gertrude in 1910 in the Oregon census with her husband and first child (who had been born in Oregon.) I also found a marriage record for the couple in Idaho although originally I found just an index. It wasn’t until quite a number of years later that the image was on-line.   It allowed me to see that this was not a first marriage for Herbert and that he listed his birthplace as Minnesota.

But I was happily on Gertrude’s trail now and traced her through 3 more marriages right up to the 1940 census. Herbert was another case however – my “brick wall.” Before I saw the image of the marriage record I was working with what would later prove to be a false hypothesis that he was the Herbert Evans in the Colorado census of 1900. I even blogged about it.   The age was right and I figured that he and Gertrude ran off to Idaho to get married. Even with the Minnesota information, it wasn’t clear. I did find a few possibly matched in early Minnesota censuses, but was pretty much resigned to him being my dead end.

Then I signed up for one of Michael John Neill’s classes on “Organizing Genealogical Information” Mostly because of Susan Petersen’s Organized Genealogist website and Facebook group  the title just caught my eye. Tomorrow I’ll thrill you with the tale of my actual discovery as a result of our first homework assignment.