Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Mystery of Zetta Fern Beck

Several months ago I became aware of some old newspaper articles that indicated my great grandmother, Effie Furst Beck, as a young woman, gave birth to a child. Not only did she have a child, she accused one Charles Cox of being the father. Apparently, as reports had it, he betrayed her and did not marry her. I began to research this, but all I could find was the mention of a ten-year old girl named Zetta living with Effie’s parents, Wells and Emma Beck, as their daughter (per the 1900 Census). After that, Zetta seemed to have vanished. That is until Sunday.

Somehow while searching the internet for my great great grandmother, Emma, I came upon a link to the old Familysearch.org site. As I began looking around, I noticed that Emma’s children were listed in the International Genealogical Index for North America. This was quite cool, as it actually gave the middle names that I didn’t have as well as some birth dates that I hadn’t found. I decided to try a search of Zetta Beck and only included her mother’s name and there it was! I nearly fell out of my chair.

Zetta Fern Beck was born in Shelby, Illinois on 23 Sept 1889, and as I suspected, Effie was her mother. No father was listed, but I am pretty certain from the old articles that Charles Cox was the father. As soon as I added Zetta’s correct date of birth to my Ancestry.com tree, I got a hint (one of my favorite Ancestry features). I followed that hint and found Zetta on someone’s tree, along with her husband and two children! As I added them to my tree, I began to find them on the 1910 and 1930 census and a few other records which were helpful, and even found Zetta, her husband and their daughter on Findagrave.com.

Oddly enough, I could not find their family at all in 1920. Hmm. I have had that experience more than once, but I have reached out to the person with Zetta on his or her tree and will now begin to search for a surviving grandson of Zetta's. I do find this detective work both fascinating and frustrating. If you're like me and want instant gratification, you can probably understand where I'm coming from.

Incidentally, I did try to find Lola the same way I found Zetta. I also looked for Lola's other siblings - Bessie, Monroe, George and William (born Wells). I couldn't find any of them. I think that maybe they were not born in Shelby County, IL, as it does seem that those records are transcribed. I'm not sure if only certain years have been transcribed and the years my grandmother and her siblings were born haven't been yet, or if (as I now speculate) they were born in a different county. I do know that William (aka Bill) was born in Joliet (Will County), IL and that the family did live there in 1900. I am going to contact the Illinois State Genealogical Society to find out (or the Family Research Center). I am also going to volunteer to transcribe records. I really want to give back because I have received so much from this community.

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