Monday, August 2, 2010

George and Kate

George was my great grandfather, my dad's grandfather, and Lola's father. Going into this "family history" research, I probably knew just a slight bit more about George than anyone (besides Lola). I knew what my dad told me and that was that George left his young family to "return to Germany to fight for the Kaiser". That little bit of family "history" made sense when I began my on-line search and discovered the family not living together in 1910, and that George appeared to have vanished. I have been able to find him (on-line) after 1900, and then he resurfaced from what I can find in 1915.

Again, I have been able to find him either through the historical documents on or in my new favorite "search engine", I spent nearly the entire past weekend doing research and opted to focus on George and the fact that in an old newspaper article, George was in town visiting his sister! Well, I was jazzed. The article was appropriate for the time. Back then women were identified as Mrs. and the first and last name of their husbands. I then searched Ancestry for her husband and I found them. Not only did I find Kate or Catherine (each document has her name different or spelled different - Katie, Kate, Catharine, Katherine, Catherine), but found they had three children - Armand, D'Arlene and Grace. Her husband was also named George and he was a physician and surgeon. I also looked back at George's WWI draft registration and found he listed Kate (that is what he called her, so I will call her that, too) as his "Nearest Relative".

In order to add Kate as my great grandfather's sibling, I had to add a father. That was easy - I just used the surname and nothing else. I was then able to add Kate and then search. I found them in both 1920 and 1930. Then I decided to search the newspaper archives for Kate's last name in Decatur and found that in 1928, a Louise and her three children were in town to visit her parents, George and Kate. The article listed her with a hyphenated lasted name (maiden and married). I searched Ancestry for Louise by her married name and found her in 1920, newly married to Harry and then in 1930 as head of household, with three young children (Virginia, Clayton and Armand). It was actually hard to read the letter used for marital status so I'm not sure if it was D (divorce) or W (widow).

Naturally, I had to dig further to find out about Louise prior to her getting married and so I searched Louise by her maiden name and found her! Thank God she was a modern gal and went by her maiden and married name, otherwise it may have taken me a bit longer to put the family member pieces together. My search of Louise by her maiden name explained why I didn't find her when I searched for her step-father, George. In both 1900 and 1910, the last name was spelled wrong on the census and therefore, transcribed wrong into the searchable database. The other thing I found, was Louise's brother John.

I can look and these historical documents over and over, and each time I will notice something I hadn't noticed before. The 1900 census had some great questions such as "age at first marriage" and "mother of how many children" and "number of children living". She was the mother of four children, and three were living. OK, this was June of 1900. Kate and George married in March of 1900, and their three children were born between 1905 - 1910. Three children living, yet only two were living with her. Mind you, I have several windows open so that I can jump between my different databases, and when I noticed that Kate had three children, I went back to my NewspaperArchive search and found an article about her recovering from a serious illness and that her son John and daughter Emma from Kansas were visiting! Wow, Emma (and her little daughter Maxine). This article gave Emma's last name and I found her in Kansas married to Fred and with a daughter Maxine. This one will be a little more challenging as she lived and I believe died in Kansas (or so another great databased,, indicates)!

Emma was born in Germany and immigrated to the US the same year her mother did, but it so far seems that she may have lived with another German immigrant family and I think I shall have to research this to determine if Kate knew this family and immigrated with them. George did immigrate a few years before Kate and I still have not been able to find him at least in the 1880 census (I have seen his year of immigration listed as both 1876 and 1879, nor can I find parents or guardians as he was a young boy when he arrived.

There is one other search engine I'm quickly becoming attached to that is falling into FAV category for me and that is The Illinois State Archives database. You can search for marriages pre-1900 (although more are being added regularly beyond 1900), deaths pre-1916, and deaths 1916 - 1950. I have been able to find the dates and certificate numbers for many of my family members (my family is from Illinois), and have ordered several. I hope to prove that Kate and George are truly siblings and should be able to prove that my the documents listing names and birthplace of parents. The other cool thing these documents list is informant (death certificates) and witnesses (marriage certificates). It might not seem like it, but that is some "priceless" information to have when trying to find people.

Through the database, I discovered that two of Kate's daughters, Louise and D'Arlene, both died young. Louise died at 38 in 1930 and D'Arlene was 26 when she died in 1935. How sad that they died so young, I thought, so I've ordered their death records as I'm curious about that. I also wonder what became of Louise's three young children - who took care of them? It really does never end, this search, and still, I'm no closer to finding Lola, but I've found so many more people and I hope that through research, I'll finding living descendants and that someone will know something. I also got the death dates and death certificate numbers of George, Kate and Effie through the State Archives, as well as the dates of Kates two marriages - to John in 1886 and George in 1900, along with the date George and Effie married. I'm ordering these records as well as the death records and can't wait to get them!

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