Friday, July 30, 2010


Effie was my great grandmother, my dad's grandmother, and Lola's mother. As with pretty much everyone I found since beginning to look for my grandmother, Lola, I found Effie. I don't recall my dad ever mentioning either of his grandmothers. Both of them had their share of children and husbands. My dad's paternal grandmother, Hattie, had four husbands, while Effie had two (as far as I can tell).

One of the fascinating aspects of using on-line services for family history research is something called This is a pay service, but most genealogical societies have memberships that members can utilize, and does have some kind of relationship with, so that you can possibly find old newspaper articles about your family members when searching them on Ancestry. My own experience has suggested that I have found more information by having the additional access to the newspaper archives as not everything I've found there seems readily available on Ancestry.

Effie was born in Prairie Home, IL, in August of 1871. Naturally, that was a time when people had many children and this was no exception. She was one of 10 kids (or 11 by some accounts), born to Wells and Emma. I do not yet have any clue what her childhood was like, but I imagine as a young woman, she may have been rather scandalous for the time and I do find that rather intriguing! Again, I don't know that she was scandalous, she may have just been young and impressionable, for all I know. Yet, sadly, it appears that scandal (my choice of words and one I tend to enjoy) did seem to follow her.

I know that Effie married my great grandfather, George, Dec 31, 1892, even though the State Record of the marriage has the 14th of Dec, 1892 listed as the date. Effie then gave birth to her daughter, Bessie, in July of 1893. Hmm. Interestingly, Effie had a younger sister Bessie who died in 1893 and it seems to me that she may have honored her sister by naming her daughter after her.

Effie and George went on to have four more children - Lola (my grandmother) born in 1894; Monroe, born in 1895; George born in 1899; William born in 1901. I can't help but think that during this time, a time when birth control was not an option for women, that Effie may have had miscarriages between the births of Monroe and George.

The family seemed to be just fine (by on-line accounts) until 1910. That year found Effie and her children not living together and her husband George, nowhere to be found. In 1910 (per the US Census), Effie and all of her five children were living in different homes in Illinois as domestics or laborers working for board. I have noticed that Effie, like most women of that time, did not work out of the home, so when she found herself alone with five kids, I can only imagine what she went through. Effie was actually living as a "servant" in 1910, for an elderly woman, without her children. Her youngest child at that time, William, somehow ended up in Iowa at 8 years old.

I still cannot find any sign of my great grandfather, George, in 1910. I find this interesting. Family legend says that he left Effie and the kids to return to Germany. I don't know that I believe that as most records I find lead to his being quite young when he came to the US and he became a naturalized citizen in 1898.

So, when did the marriage crumble? I don't know yet. I do know that George and Effie were officially divorced in 1920. Prior to that, their son George listed his father as his nearest relative on his WWI draft registration.

And now, some interesting and possible facts about Effie...

Flashback to 21 December of 1889. Effie "preferred a charge of bastardy" against one Charles Cox. Whoa, preferred charges of bastardy? What is that exactly? From what I can tell, it boils down to Charles got Effie pregnant and then split. Common practice in modern times, but surely not in the late 1800s. In fact, Effie's father, Wells, was so outraged by this, that he was determined to make the young man (Charles, 25) "suffer the extreme penalty of the law for blighting the life of his daughter" (she was 17 or 18). Charges were to have been dropped had Charles married Effie, but that didn't happen and he was fined for his "crime".

What is interesting and something I just found is that Wells and his wife, Emma (Effie's parents) suddenly had a child show up on the 1900 census, a daughter named Zetta, born in May of 1890. I think she was Effie's child being raised by her parents, and have not yet been able to find her beyond the 1900 census.

OK - some more tidbits about Effie. Again, she was a woman that seems to have had much sorrow in her life, which may have ultimately lead to unsavory behavior:

Effie ... Insane
Effie ... was picked up by Officer Royse Tuesday night in an apparently demented condition. She was wandering around in the alley back of the Singleton restaurant. She was turned over to Sheriff Nicholson Wednesday morning and will probably be sent to Jacksonville. She has led a hard life and is well known to the police. Her mind seems to be entirely gone. She sat in a cell all night and talked with an imaginary person whom she thought was sitting beside her. Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 27 Sep 1911

Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 27 Sep 1911 Effie ..., who was picked up in a demented condition a few nights ago and who has since been in the county jail, is improving. It is now thought that her mental condition is due to a protracted spree (drunk and depressed, I am thinking).

Man and Woman Arrested
Effie ... and Charles Benvenuto were arrested by Officers Ray and Royse Saturday night in the vacant lot at the corner of Cerro Gordo street and Broadway. They were charged with disorderly conduct. Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 24 May 1914.

Surely, Effie knew that in 1912, her son Monroe died. Not to mention, her other children were living away from her and may have had minimal contact with her.

George did resurface, and was granted divorce in 1920. By then, Effie had a new husband and was still making appearances in the paper for things like fines for bootlegging, the last being two years before her death in 1931.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

California Memorial Project Follow Up

So, yesterday I was thinking about my arranged call with the California Memorial Project that just somehow never happened and decided to send a follow up email about it. We were supposed to talk on June 2 and that wasn't convenient and I was told that June 7 was better. I replied that I was fine with that. Then, again, nothing.

I'm hoping that I will hear something back. It has been more than 24 hours since the follow up email and "all is quiet" there. Maybe my "contact person" is on vacation (hopefully) and will get back to me next week. I just find it absolutely amazing that what began as a search for my grandmother has revealed tons of family members that I never knew existed, yet, nothing on Lola. I have found her parents, her aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings. I have even found the spouses and children of her cousins and siblings, just not her. She has, at this point, vanished "on record" after 1932. I know she lived and existed, yet don't know what ultimately happened to her. I know what I've heard from my dad and am not going to give up searching for answers. I know Lola was alive late 1930s to early 1940s when my dad last saw her. She was in the State Hospital at that time - the same hospital that will not even talk to me without a "court order".

Now, I'm thinking I need to focus on ordering some death records from Illinois. I'm going to get Bessie's (Lola's sister), Bessie's brother in law, William's, and my great grandfather, George's death records. Maybe there will be some hidden information in these certificates. I have found that often times, that is the case - names of people, addresses, burial information. From there, especially with burial information, is moturary contact and the possibiity of obituaries that have just escaped the internet. Obituaries are also full of information and names. Looks like I've got my weekend work cut out for me.

And speaking of the weekend, tomorrow is my day off and I'm going to take a fun workshop at the Pasadena Bead and Gem Show! This is going to be fun. The workshop focuses on glass cutting and soldering. I love doing that and have taken a few classes already, yet, once I leave these classes, I tend to NOT do anything. I hope that this will be the class that makes me break my mold and that I'll then come home and actually cut glass and solder and make pendants and the like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bill and Ann Get Married

Can I just say that on Thursday, July 15th, I got an email that caused me to gasp out loud! It was from Ann's niece, telling me that she and her cousin (I had the pleasure of meeting them in June) found pictures of Bill (formerly known here as William) and Ann's wedding day and they were going to be in the mail to me the next day! Well, I got those pictures on Saturday, June 17th, and they are wonderful!

Ann was Bill's third wife. They married in 1961 and remained married until his death in 1977. By all accounts they were very happy and had a wonderful life together. They had a nice home, a cabin in the mountains, and an ever present Boxer, Duchess.

I am only posting one picture at this time because I need to do some cleaning with PhotoShop on the other one and my computer with PhotoShop is currently acting up and on it's way to the desktop doctor. As soon as it's back and "all better", I'll fix and post the other wedding photos.

A brief recap, Bill was my great uncle; my grandmother, Lola's youngest brother. In 1910 when Lola was 16 years old and Bill was 8 or 9 years old, they were not living together as a family with their parents and other siblings (Bessie, Monroe, and George) but rather farmed out with other families working for their board. Mind you, their mother was too. Their father had abandoned them (or so the family lore goes). But, by 1920, Lola was married to Red and the mother of two young boys (Raymond who was 4 years old and Robert who was 2 years old), and lived in Mason City, IA. Bill (aka William) was living there too in the same house with them. I still cannot understand how they ended up living together after being separated by dire circumstances several years prior.

Then, in 1927 (seven years after the untimely death of Lola's first born son Raymond in 1920), Red and Lola came to California to visit her brother (Bill). They then moved to and remained here. In 1930, Bill and his first wife, Myrle, lived in an apartment in Huntington Park, CA and Lola, Red and my dad lived in a house in Huntington Park, CA. They obviously had contact. Enter 1932 - the last time I can find anything on Lola - in the 1932 Huntington Park City Directory - living as a housewife with Red. After that, nothing. I do know that it was "around" that time that Red left Lola and my dad. I know that my dad's sister (step sister in reality) was about 8 years old when Red began visiting her mother (around 1933). I know that there was a period of time (not sure of the duration) that my dad lived with his mother, minus his father.

Then, at some point in the mid to later 1930s, Lola was taken out of the home and locked up in a State Hospital. My dad then found himself living with the families of his friends as he did not want to be a ward of the state. He was a teen at this point. By 1940, he was a young man in his early 20s newly married. His final visit with Lola (as far as I know) was during the time of this first marriage (probably between 1939 and 1942 when they separated). He did not want to see Lola, but his first wife, Fern, convinced him to. He told me that she was in the State Hospital at that time (or so that is my recollection of what he told me).

Bill's first wife Myrle, died an early death in 1938 (at 37 years old). Bill then remarried in 1942. He married a woman named Edith. That marriage lasted until her death in 1959. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder if her having a strong and supportive family was a a part of the lure for Bill, having come from a broken family. He did have an adoptive family with siblings that kept tabs on him, considering him their family, and we are still trying to learn about those relationships.

When Bill married Ann (she also had a strong and supportive family) in 1961, Edith's brother, Arthur, and his sons, Charles and Albert were there with Bill at the wedding. The above picture, left to right, is Arthur, Bill, Charles and Albert. I'm sure other members of that family were there and I hope to gather more information soon on that. I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Albert on the phone about a month ago. My "fancy" detective work, lead me to him. We are planning to meet at the end of the summer to share stories and photos and he's going to search his records for anything he might have including photos. That young, handsome guy above in the photo on the right, is now a very sharp, active, charming and vital 80 year old man! I can't wait to meet him in person and get his reaction to seeing the pictures! Plus, I can't wait to talk to him more.

So far, no one living that I've connected with that knew Bill, knew anything about his family. He never spoke about that. The feeling was that he had a rough upbringing and that he was very nice and rather quiet.

I find it interestingly sad that Bill had a strong connection with Lola, yet now, their past was really a mystery. When he married Ann in 1961 Lola was not there to my knowledge (if she was even alive then), nor was my dad (as far as I know). They were his blood relatives. However, his other family was there in force standing up for him and supporting him - the family of his late wife. He looks quite happy and comfortable with those guys. I am really happy about that, yet I'm really sad that I never had the opportunity to know Bill. I really wish I could talk to my dad right now as I have so many questions. I wonder if he'd answer them now; he really wouldn't answer questions when he was alive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Song of the Week - 18

I was about three or four years old when the phenomenon known as the British Invasion hit the scene. This "invasion" consisted of British musical artists playing a new and "popular" style of music. Of course, I didn't know the term used at the time, but like most young children, I loved music, and this new British Invasion stuff, was no exception, apparently.

Growing up we had pets. Lots of them over the years - cats, dogs and birds. I don't remember how we ended up with a parakeet (or when he "moved in"), but his name was Ringo. He had a cage with all the little bird amenities that we'd cover every night. I learned years later, that I gave him that name. When the British Invasion landed, one of the main stars was The Beatles. Like so many, I loved them and their music, and still do to this day.

Something else I don't remember was watching the infamous Ed Sullivan show that The Beatles were on. The young female audience screamed so long and loud, that you couldn't hear the song. Apparently, I sat in front of the TV and screamed along with the girls in the studio. I learned that back then, I loved Ringo and would constantly say his name. Seems I had a huge crush on Ringo when I was a toddler.

This childhood obsession with Ringo Starr would surely mean that when he released his first solo single in 1971, I'd have to have it. Well, I did. I loved the song, and still do. This week's featured song, It Don't Come Easy, has an interesting title and theme. I suppose "it" don't come easy if what "it" is, is truly not something we really want. I tend to believe that what we truly want does come easy, but what "don't come easy" is recognizing the signs that lead us to our wants and dreams and desires. I was raised to be aware of the power of suggestion and following your heart, yet, like so many, I got caught up in crap that just got in the way of what I was after/wanted (or thought I wanted). Live and learn I suppose.

So, I wasted many years just existing really, and not following any dreams I had. I don't like to dwell in the past with regret but I do like to hang out there for the nostalgia. Besides, so much of that tends to shape the adults we become. Like the song says, "The future won't last, It will soon be your tomorrow" should become a new mantra, and a force to drive me (and everyone) to live in the present and move forward with my life and dreams with passion and not just "existing". So, right here and right now, I raise my glass and toast the present and make a vow to move forward in the direction of dreams that really do come easy, and to learn to see the opportunities that I'm attracting. Namaste.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Business Trip

Business trips are not something I do often. I have probably taken about four in the past two years. So, now I'm on another one. I suppose it is time.

I have been planning my research trip to Iowa and Illinois, just not getting it together, for several months now. I really wanted to go in the spring when the weather would be mild, but, just didn't make it happen. Part of the reason is that I have been attempting to make contact with family in Illinois, hoping for contacts before hitting the road. Establishing these contacts, oddly enough, hasn't been happening "overnight".

I have now been uncovering living members of Red's family, slowly, but by the time I had, the weather began to change. Summer arrived and so did heat and humidity in the Mid-West. Being a California girl, I decided I should push the trip out to the Fall when the weather will once again be mild.

Once I made that decision, I was asked to take this trip. So now, here I am in Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL. It has been hot, warm and humid, and has been raining off and on since I arrived. Luckily cars and buildings have really good air conditioning, so the warm, humid, balmy weather is only felt when leaving a building for the car and visa verse.

I arrived in Mobile, AL on a Sunday night. When I walked out of the airport, I gasped. It was hot and humid and after 8 PM. That is NOT normal where I come from. The following day, I went to lunch with some of the people from the office and on our way back to work we saw two guys throwing blows on the divider between the highway and the service road! I couldn't believe what I was seeing!

I stayed at the Quality Inn in Mobile. There is one elevator in the place and someone dropped a piece of birthday cake in the elevator, picked it up but left tons of icing on the elevator floor. This was my first night there. The icing was still there Monday morning, but was finally cleaned up by the time I got back Monday night. Monday night was a late work night, so one of the managers decided to order pizza. I asked for a veggie pizza with no cheese. The pizza arrived and I got a pizza crust with sauce and no veggies. OK.

Wednesday night I needed to head down to Pensacola for a few days. Had to tough it out staying at the Hilton on the gulf. I had the most amazing view.

I ended up spending a week there and returned to Mobile this past Wednesday, back to the Quality Inn where my view isn't so grand; it's the Econo Lodge and the newly paved parking lot. Since being back in Mobile, I had lunch at LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lucy, owns it. It was a busy place. Had a yummy salad and unsweetened iced tea.

Today, I went to a pretty cool store with a fun co-worker for a quick shopping trip. I saw the coolest T-shirts that I have never seen before. Fun designs screened on nice cotton. The line is called "Life is Good". I loved the whimsical designs and how these guys that started it are making a living doing something they love.

After hosting a short training course for a few new employees, I ran to Target to pick up the Netbook I've been eyeing since June when I attended a Genealogy convention. I couldn't believe it was on sale and selling for a reduction of $50! So, I got to Target and they were sold out and wouldn't give me a rain check. I just hope the sale will still be on tomorrow when I get home so I can pick it up and the sale price.

I ended my day and my trip with a fun dinner with some of the ladies from the office. We went to a fun place in the old downtown part of Mobile. It was quite pretty there. A nice mix of old and new, without the new being overpowering.

My time here has pretty much been non-stop work, but I did get to oh so briefly play tourist. I do like going to places where the lifestyle is so opposite of what I'm used to and I did have fun with my co-workers. I have missed sleeping in my own bed and I have really missed my cats! I can't wait to see them. With the majority of the past two weeks being pretty much consumed by work, my sketchbooks that came here with me were pretty much ignored. The other thing pretty much ignored, was my search for my grandmother, Lola. I did spend a little time working on my family tree last night. A "little time" turned into a good hour and a half. As tired as I was, I couldn't pull myself away from it. I look forward to getting home and getting back on that search.