Prompts · Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

My Family in 1940

The following exercise was borrowed from a post from last year on Randy Seaver’s blog. Working on this exercise, I actually learned a few things about the 1940 census! I learned the circled x’s next to names mean that person is the one that answered the census-taker’s questions. Also, I noticed a column I had never paid attention to before – Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.

The exercise:

1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 April 1940 – 80 years ago when the U.S. census was taken.
2)  List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

*  On April 2, 1940,my father, Robert Wells (born 1939) resided at 17117 O’Connor Street in Allen Park, Michigan with his father, Edward Wells (born 1905), his mother Velma (nee Belknap, born 1913), and his three older sisters, Patricia (born 1934), Ruthann (born 1936), and Donna (born 1938). Edward was a stock chaser at an axle company. His salary was $1600 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Velma answered the census questions. They owned the home, and it was valued at $1200. Here is a photo of that house today: 

17117 O’Connor

*  On April 8, 1940, my grandparents, Charles Wilson (born 1907) and Helen (nee Oakes, born 1912) resided at 2431 Bennett Street in Dearborn, Michigan, with their daughter Sally Ann (born 1934) and son Charles (born 1935). My mother, Mary, had not been born yet. In the census, Charles was listed as a truck driver at a creamery company, and his income was $2000 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 48 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Helen was the one who answered the census questions. They owned their home, and it was valued at $4600. Here is the house in the 1950s:

2431 Bennett

*  On April 13, 1940, my great-grandmother, Mae Oakes Smiechowski Johnson (nee Moore, born 1892) and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson (born 1892) resided at 14810 Parkgrove, Detroit, Michigan, with Mae’s nephew, Harry Moore (born 1914). Mae was my grandmother Helen’s mother. Alfred and Mae owned the house (valued at $6000) and rented the upper flat out for $35 a month. Alfred was listed as an inspector of automobile parts, and his income was $2100 annually. He had worked 48 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Alfred was the one who answered the census questions. Here is the house in 2007. It has since been torn down.

14810 Parkgrove (from Google Street View)

*  On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandmother, Mina Moore Thompson (nee Bolt, born 1865) and her 2nd husband Bert Thompson (born 1879) resided at 23439 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. Mina, Mae’s mother, was the one that answered the census questions. Bert was a carpenter in building construction and worked 26 weeks in 1939. During the week of March 24-30, 1940, he worked 24 hours. His annual income was $800. They rented the house for $10/month. The house would have been located on the south side of Michigan Ave. near the corner of Outer Drive. It was torn down before 1956, when an office building was built there.

*  On April 16, 1940, my great-grandmother, Nannie Wells (nee Clark, born 1880) resided at 1087 Victoria Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with her son Jesse. She rented the house for $30/month. Also living with her were two lodgers from Indiana named Fred and Boaz Duncan. Nannie was the mother of my grandfather Edward Wells. The house no longer stands but was located near Fort Street and Outer Drive.

*  On April 3, 1940, my great-grandparents, Earl Belknap (born 1895) and Florence (nee Bost, born 1896) resided at 1611 Electric Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with their children Helen (born 1921), Arthur (born 1923), Betty (born 1927), Joyce (born 1931), Nancy (born 1934), Nadine (born 1936) and Shirley (born 1939). Earl and Florence were the parents of my grandmother Velma. I don’t have a picture, but it was located near Fort Street and Southfield Road. They rented for $20/month. Earl was a carpenter, earning $750 in income annually. He had worked 36 weeks in 1939.

*  On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandfather, Arthur Belknap (born 1869) was the father of Earl Belknap and resided at 35120 University in Nankin Township, Michigan (now in Westland, Michigan). He was living with his daughter Belva (born 1899) and her husband Alva Merillat and their children Bernetta (born 1928) and Ralph (born 1939). They rented the house for $20 a month. Here is a photo of the house from 2007:

35120 University

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