Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Not so Wordless Wednesday on Thursday

When I was a little girl, I loved puzzles, paint by numbers, anything arts and crafts, our family pets, my family, my friends and a few outfits and shoes I had.

I also loved music. I grew up in house full of music of many genres. The music my parents listened to, the music my big sister listened to and the popular music on local radio and TV shows. One of those shows was American Bandstand.

I think there was a time that everyone in the US had American Bandstand on their television at some point. Yesterday was not only my birthday, but the day that Dick Clark died. The ultimate teenager and man behind the show that introduced so many "top 40" artists to the US, died from a massive heart attack while having some procedure done at a hospital in Santa Monica, CA.

Then today I learned that not only did Levon Helm from The Band die, but Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabas Collins) passed away as well. Levon Helm passed away from cancer today, and Jonathan Frid passed from natural causes on Saturday.

I was a major Dark Shadows fan as a child. I mean seriously obsessed. I would run home from school every day so that I could watch the show. This was way before the days of VCRs and DVRs. The show was, in retrospect and watching from an adult perspective, very campy and full of  "bloopers" such as boom mikes in the scenes or stage hands, but, as a kid I never noticed that. I was just thoroughly caught up in it.

Once I woke my parents up screaming because I had a Dark Shadows type nightmare. My mom threatened to cut me off. She told me I couldn't watch it anymore. I really thought I would die! I could NOT comprehend life without it (and I was so young to be so dramatic). I cried, begged, whined, carried on and basically tortured her until she agreed to let me watch it and the agreement was that if I had another nightmare, no more Dark Shadows. Luckily, I never had another one, or at least not one that made me scream in the middle of the night!

So, I dedicate this post to Dick Clark, Levon Helm and Jonathan Frid. They were such a part of my childhood and my life. They brought joy and entertainment and music that I will forever be thankful for.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Benjamin H. Trump - 20 - 22 April 1940

My great aunt Bessie Cloos Trump was married to a man named Ben H. Trump. I still have no idea how or when they met, or when and where they married, but know of them through my genealogy research. Bessie was living in Decatur, IL until 1911 from what I can find. Ben was living in Greenville, IL until 1910 from what I can find. Sometimes research is tough when you can't just walk into a local library and pull old city directories. And as far as finding the marriage certificate, I have no idea where to begin since I have no idea when or where they married. This is tough.

Ben registered for the WWI draft in 1917 and listed a wife. I assume that was Bessie. He was living in Greenville, IL. The 1920 census lists them as married and living in Greenville. Then came the 1930 and 1940 census. Bessie was no longer living with Ben, but rather living as an "inmate" in Alton State Hospital in Illinois. I have no idea when she went in but am going to do my best to get her records. So, not only was she an "inmate" in 1930, she was also one in 1940.

I did find Ben's WWII draft registration that listed him living in a place called Donnellson, East Fork, Montgomery County, IL. Last week with the release of the 1940 census, I decided to try to find him. Lucky for me, Donnellson was only four pages and I found Ben on page 3. He was listed as a home owner and a blacksmith (which was his typical occupation). Funny thing is that it listed his marital status as "M" but then seemed to be crossed out with either a question mark or a number 7 written next to it. I tried to find out what either one of those notations might have indicated on the census, but failed. The 1940 census also showed me that Ben lived in Donnellson in 1935.

I still have not been able to find a death record for him, which baffles me. A few weeks ago, my sister suggested that maybe, like Lola, Ben died under a different name, or that maybe Ben was a nickname and not his birth name. I then began searching last weekend for any possible Trumps with the first name beginning with H as that was always listed as his middle initial. I did find a Harrison Trump that was born around the same time (not the exact birth date though that Ben listed on his draft registrations). Harrison died in Washington County, IL in 1979, but I cannot determine that date as the SSDI only lists month and year. That makes trying to order a death certificate a challenge.  I also tried to see what I could find on a Harrison Trump on Ancestry and FamilySearch, and found nothing except the SSDI listing. I wonder if that was him. The search continues.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My dad Robert - 18 April 1940

As I mentioned before, last Monday (2 April 2012) the 1940 US Federal Census was released. As the different (lack of a better word) organizations began to make the scans available, my sister and I were trying to find our dad. We knew he lived in Huntington Park, California with the family of a friend, and the friend I was sure he lived with, I couldn't find anywhere in the on-line genealogy world. The last known address we had for my dad prior to Lola being "sent away" was the 1930 US Census and we knew that wasn't going to be a good resource.

My dad was born in Mason City, IA on 11 October 1917. Sometime in 1927, when he was 9 or 10, my grandparents and dad moved to California after a trip here to visit Lola's brother Bill Meents. In January of 1930, Lola had some sort of "incident" and was hospitalized for a few weeks for depression. She was released.  On 2 April 1930, the family was on the US Census in Huntington Park. My dad was 12 years old.  By January of 1936, my grandmother was committed. My grandfather and my dad were not in her life at this point. My dad would have been about 18 years of age.

So as we were trying to figure out how to find my dad on the 1940 Census (and knowing our only means of finding him was by an address) I remembered that I have a copy of the marriage certificate of my dad and his first wife, Fern. They married 17 August 1940. I pulled that out of my files and wrote the address he had listed on the certificate down. I then tried to determine where the heck that enumeration district was. My sister was already getting the hang of figuring the districts out so I gave her the address and the mission to find dad was hers.  Within about 10 minutes she found him! He was living at the same address that was listed on his marriage certificate and it was in fact the home of his friend's family that I could never seem to find on line anywhere - The McGowans. He was listed as a 22 year old lodger at their home on 18 April 1940, and was actually living there on 1 April 1935. My dad is at the bottom of below image.

National Archives

That bit of info was interesting as I am still not certain when my grandfather, Red, split, so I now know it was sometime before 1 April 1935. Once I can find Red on the 1940, maybe that will help a little bit. I know in January of 1936, Red was living in South Gate, California. Oh heck, maybe knowing his whereabouts in 1935 won't help piece things together. Or at least, not just yet.

Happy Spring!

Wasn't it just Christmas? Again I ask where does the time go? I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, be it Easter or Passover. I grew up celebrating Easter holiday with the Easter egg hunt, Easter basket, Easter dress (not really bonnets though), Easter candy. Early on, we got chocolate eggs and after much whining, the parents changed it to chocolate bunnies. We didn't go to church for Easter unless my aunts took us (my sister and I that is). Sometimes my mom would go, but never my dad.

Me, Easter 1962. Huntington Park, CA

Maybe I should be celebrating both Easter and Passover. Upon recently obtaining my grandmother, Lola's medical records, I learned that she said she was Jewish on her mother's side (her mother being my "famous" and rather unconventional great grandmother Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby). I really don't know the story behind that and have not yet been able to determine whether or not the Becks were Jewish. From anything I can find, they appeared to have held weddings and funerals at Christian type churches.

My grandmother though, would participate in Jewish activities while she was in the system, and is buried in a beautifully maintained Jewish cemetery. In fact, the employees at that cemetery are beyond amazing. When I first got Lola's death certificate and my sister called the cemetery listed on it, the woman my sister spoke with took down some information and said she'd go out and find the plot and email a picture. Within an hour, she did just that! I really look forward to learning more about this.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Great Aunt Bessie - 3 May 1940

With the exciting release yesterday of the 1940 census, I, like so many others out there, have been researching the census at any opportunity. The two sites I keep going to, and, haven't yet uploaded the one state I'm most interested in - Illinois.  However, the National Archives has all States uploaded on their site, so, this evening I decided to head over there and see if I could find my grandmother, Lola's, sister Bessie. I really had no idea where she might have been, but I did know where she was in 1930, so, that's where I started, and sadly, that's where I found her ten years later.

Let me recap here.  As I began to research my dad's family, and his mother in particular, I found her parents and siblings. Bessie was her older sister by one year and three months, born 1 July 1893 (7 months after my great grandparents, George Cloos and Effie Beck married). George and Effie had five children and sometime before 1910, their marriage broke up and Effie and her children ended up living with other families as hired help, domestics or servants by the 1910 Census. I still cannot find George in 1910. In 1910, Bessie lived with a family called Colter, in Decatur, IL, as a boarder. The only other thing I could recently find on her, was a 1911 Decatur Directory which had her listed as Bessie Cloos.

By 1920 and the census, she was married to a man named Benjamin H. Trump and living in Greenville, Bond County, IL. She was about 27 (yet the census lists her as 25) and did not work out of the home. Ben was older than by a few years and worked as a blacksmith (self employed) and owned the home they lived in. When or how they met, I do not know. When or where they married, I do not know. I know that in June of 1917 they were married as I have Ben's WWI draft registration that lists a wife.

But then there's the 1930 census and Bessie Trump is listed as a "patient" at the Alton State Hospital in Wood Bridge, Madison County, Illinois! You can only imagine my shock to learn that, knowing that my grandmother was also in a State Hospital. Bessie was listed as a white female, married and 35 years of age. This census was taken on 1 Apr 1930.

Armed with her last known address, I went to the National Archives site this evening and entered the enumeration number from 1930 and got the enumeration number for 1940 and then the pages and began checking. I really had no idea where she was by then, but decided to check there as it was her last known address for me.  Unlike Camarillo State Hospital, where Lola was, the pages for Alton State Hospital had the "inmates" listed alphabetically. I began browsing through the pages until I got to the "Ts". I then scrolled down, and sadly, there she was, ten years later, still in Alton State Hospital. This census was taken on 3 May 1940. It listed Bessie as 45, white, female, born in Illinois, married (and then it looks to be crossed out with a question mark) and it does state that on 1 Apr 1935 she was at the "same house".

My heart sank and I felt such sadness. What happened to her? Why did she and my grandmother end up in these facilities while their brothers lived outside and normal lives? How could this be? I know they all had the same hard upbringing, and I know my grandmother's was compounded by the loss of a child and then moving to a new state.

I am of the opinion that Bessie did not have children as I've yet to find any proof of that, therefore, I believe my sisters and I are her next of kin. I am now seriously going to research how to get a hold of her medical records. I have attempted to reach out to living relatives on her husband's side of the family, and either, no one knows of her or has ever gotten back to my sister or I. I have her obituary that does not list her blood family at all and she died 6 Feb 1976 in a convalescent hospital in Peoria, IL. I imagine she died alone. Makes me so sad.

For the record, I tried to print and scan the 1940 census page with Bessie, but kept encountering problems. It just would not print even though I downloaded the free software that is suppose to make sharing this stuff "easy".

Again, I can't say enough how lucky we are to live in the time we do, as I really think there was a time when you could be "thrown" away because you were alone and unemployed and maybe suffered from depression. Why that side of my family didn't "stick" together, I may never know. I am pretty sure they knew where each other was, but that clearly didn't change what was their reality.

Now begins the serious research on how to obtain Bessie records as I (and my sisters) are clearly her next of kin and this is our bloodline.  Surely, more to come here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Grandmother, Lola - 9 April 1940

Today, April 2, 2012, the 1940 US Federal Census was released at 12:01 AM by the National Archives. These scans were released to a few different organizations including and has been uploading pages by state and today they began to upload California (along with Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, Guam, American Samoa, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Nevada, Panama Canal Zone, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands and Virginia. has uploaded Kansas, Oregon, Colorado, Virginia and Delaware.

Mind you, none of these pages have yet been indexed by name, so in order to search for your relatives, you must have an idea of where they might have lived and then determine the enumeration number for that area. There are maps available at the various sites, including the National Archives, but I haven't been able to really figure the numbers out.

This evening I checked at Ancestry for the progress of California and found Ventura County was up. I checked it and found that the city of Camarillo was available and there were only five links. The last of the links was the one I needed. It included the now closed Camarillo State Hospital (or as it was called in 1940, Camarillo State Mental Hospital). I knew from the hospital records I was able to obtain, that Lola was at Camarillo in 1940. When I opened that file, it was huge - 93 pages! This meant 93 pages to search without the luxury of names being indexed (which makes the search SO easy). My sister and I got on it and began to look through the pages, looking for Lola. Now, we knew that she was in the system as Marie and not Lola, so that was the name we were looking for. My sister was checking ahead of the pages I was checking and finally she said, "here she is". I asked what page she told me page 63 and line 34 (please see last line below).

National Archives
 The 1940 Census has some great questions, including address in 1935, yet, apparently all these great questions weren't all that important of anyone that was in a State Hospital in 1940. Basically, the only information that was apparently EVER going to be important to any family members in the future was Name, Age, Sex, Race, Marital Status and Place of Birth. I find that rather disturbing.

There was a time in my search for Lola that I really thought my only means of finding her was either going to be through the assistance of a medium like James Van Praagh or the 1940 Census. If I hadn't found her, I sadly realized today that I still wouldn't have a clue about her from this census. I hope that isn't going to be the case with her sister, Bessie! Time will tell though.