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, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, 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.

1 comment:

  1. You sound so much like me -- hopelessly curious about the things that will likely never be answered. Stick with the request for Bessie's records -- you're getting close!