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

#40 Farmers in my Tree

For Week 40 of #52Ancestors, the theme is “Harvest.” I decided to look and see how many of my great-great grandfathers (you have 8) were listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census/1881 Canadian Census with an occupation of “Farmer.”  Here we go:

  1. James Wells – Farmer, aged 40, Horsepasture District, Henry Co., Virginia
  2. Willis Clark – Dead
  3. Arthur Belknap – aged 11 – his dad was a laborer in Dover, Fulton Co., Ohio
  4. William Bost – Farm Laborer, aged 20, Marion Twp., Henry Co., Ohio
  5. John Wilson – Farmer, aged 48, Howe Island, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada
  6. Archibald Thompson – Sailor, aged 43, Amherst Island, Lennox & Addington, Ontario, Canada
  7. Henry Ochs – Farmer, aged 34, Taylor, Wayne Co., Michigan
  8. Fred Moore – Farm Laborer, aged 17, living with his grandmother in Stafford, Genesee Co., New York

So 1 of my g-g grandfathers was dead by 1880, 1 was only 11, 1 was a sailor, and the rest were farmers or farm laborers. Interesting stuff!

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Archie Thompson, year unknown

#38 Moore Boys

My grandmother Helen was an only child. She had three first cousins on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, she had nine first cousins, but I don’t think she knew any of them. She doesn’t seem to have had much contact with his side of the family, and he died in 1928 when she was about 16.

Today, I’d like to post some picture’s of Ma’s first cousins on her mom’s side, Lee, Harry, and Glenn Moore, the sons of her uncle Glenn “Fred” Moore. Lee was born on January 5, 1913 in Hartford, Van Buren, Michigan, Harry was born on December 25, 1914, and Glenn III was born on June 20, 1922 in New Buffalo, Michigan.

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Glenn Moore III, with his mother Nela (right), his aunt and my great-grandmother Mae Moore (left), and his grandmother and my great-great grandmother Mina (center)

Week 38 (Sept. 16-22): Cousins

#34 Helen Moore

I have written about my great-grandmother’s sister Helen before (back in 2011). Since this week was about tragedy, I though I would share her story again, and include some newspapers articles I’ve found since 2011 that shed some light on what happened to her.

Helen was born March 14, 1895 in Plymouth, Michigan to Fred and Mina (Bolt) Moore. She had an older brother and sister, Glenn and Mae, and a younger brother, Earl.

Helen, Mae and Earl Moore
Helen Moore, at left, c1897

Back of portrait
Written on the back of the photo by oldest brother Glenn

Helen was 2-3 years old when she was photographed with her sister and younger brother, shown above. An article from the Northville Record from Friday, April 28, 1899 says, “The four-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Moore of Plymouth was seriously burned in that village last week Friday. Her clothes caught from a burning bon-fire near which she was playing.” So that would mean the accident occurred on Friday, April 21, 1899.

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helen_4-28-99
Another article from the April 28, 1899 issue of the Yale Expositor also said she was burned when her clothes caught fire from a bonfire. That paper said, however, that “she may live but will be disfigured for life.”

Helen died on May 1, 1899 at about six in the morning in Plymouth, MI. Her death certificate says she suffered a severe burn 10 days before.  The disease causing death was listed as a sympathetic fever, which she had been enduring for 48 hours, and the immediate cause of death was listed as a hemorrhage.

Week 34 (Aug. 19-25): Tragedy

#33 Laughter

I love this picture of my great-great grandmother laughing. It’s fun to imagine who or what she is laughing at and what the occasion was. Maybe a picnic? The picture below shows from left, my great-great grandmother Mina (Bolt) Moore Thompson, Jessie (Johnson) Bodington, the sister-in-law of my great-grandmother, and my great-grandmother Mae (Moore) Johnson. I think this picture was taken sometime in the 1930s, since Jessie came over from England in 1929.

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From left: Mina, Jessie, and Mae  

Week 33 (Aug. 12-18): Comedy

#25 Earliest Photos

I saw this idea from Amy’s review of Week 25: “Debi shared the earliest photos of various ancestors. (I like how she broke them down by maternal and paternal sides).” So I’m going to give it a try!

Maternal

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My 3rd Great-Grandfather, William Dillon Bolt (1835-1901)

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My 3rd Great-Grandmother, Mary J. (Everitt) Bolt (1837-1918)

 

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My 2nd Great-Grandmother, Mina Adell (Bolt) Moore Thompson, (1866-1942)

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My 2nd Great-Grandfather, Archibald Thompson (1838-1931)

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My great-grandfather, John A. Wilson (1874-1930)

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My great-grandmother, Mary (Thompson) Wilson (1872-1940)

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My great-grandmother, Mae Dillon (Moore) Oakes Smiechowski Johnson (1892-1971)

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My grandfather, Charles Wilson (1907-1989)

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My grandmother, Helen Oakes (1912-1988) on her mother Mae’s lap

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My mother

Paternal

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My 3rd Great-Grandmother, Margaret (Rhost) Gisel (1848-1939)

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My 2nd Great-Grandfather, Arthur Belknap (1869-1955)

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My 2nd Great-Grandmother, Martha (Gisel) Belknap (1869-1925)

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My 2nd Great-Grandfather, William S. Bost (1859-1932)

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My Great-Grandmother, Nannie Jane (Clark) Wells (1880-1969)

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My Great-Grandfather, Earl E. Belknap (1895-1960)

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My Great-Grandmother, Florence E. Bost (1896-1961)

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My grandfather, Edward L. Wells (1905-1955)

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My grandmother, Velma Belknap (1913-1999)

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My father

Week 25 (June 17-23): Earliest

#18 Florida for the Winter

My great-grandmother Mae Moore Johnson and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson were married in 1925. They used to take the bus to Florida for the winters in the 1950s (not sure exactly how many years they did this). I’m lucky to have the postcards they sent my mother from their trip in the winter of 1959.

First postcard of the trip, postmarked Feb. 25, 1959, Charleston WV

2-25-1959_front

2-25-1959
Dear Mary, Had a nice trip not too cold down here Love Grandma + Grandpa

Second postcard, postmarked Feb. 26, 1959, Charlotte, NC

2-26-1959_front

2-26-1959
Hi Mary, We have a nice hotel to stay overnight. Have to get up tomorrow a[t] 5 o’clock to get out 6 15 bus to Jacksonville. Love Grandma
Third postcard, postmarked Feb. 27, 1959, Orlando, FL

2-27-1959_front

2-27-1959
Hi Mary, We have a nice apt. not far from this nice park. The roses are in full bloom and its really warm 70 degrees right now. Wish you could be with us. Its a very clean city. Love Grandma Grandpa

Third postcard, postmarked Mar. 6, 1959, Orlando, FL

3-6-1959_front

3-6-1959
3/6/59 Hi Mary, We went to this tower and cypress gardens and to another park was gone all day. Received Mothers letter. Will write later. Love, Grandma + Grandpa

Fourth postcard, postmarked Mar. 9, 1959, Orlando, FL

3-9-1959_front

3-9-1959
3/9/59 Hi Mary, We went to an orchid show Sunday it was beautiful all colors you would want to see hundred of them We enjoyed it very much. Love Grandma + Grandpa

Fifth postcard, postmarked Mar. 16, 1959, Miami, FL

3-16-1959_front

3-16-1959
3/16/59 Hi Mary Talk about warm its 81 degrees now going to 85 before night. Theirs always a breeze thats cool. Hope all are well. I will write a letter to Mama later. Love Grandma + Grandpa

Sixth postcard, postmarked Mar. 28, 1959, Miami, FL

3-28-1959_front

3-28-1959
3/28/59 Hi Mary This is where we go every Wed. + Friday night to hear good music. We are having some hot weather. We received Easter cards will write letter later. You will be all dress up for Easter hope it don’t rain. Love Grandma

Last postcard, postmarked Apr. 13, 1959, Saint Petersburg, FL

4-13-1959_front

4-13-1959
4/12/59 Hi Mary, Its another hot day its 83 degrees out now. We will start home next Friday night Will get home sometime Sunday. Love Grandma + Grandpa

Week 18 (April 29-May 5): Road Trip

#13 Glenn “Fred” Moore

I had heard from a relative that my great-grandmother Mae’s brother Glenn Bolt Moore, (nicknamed Fred after his father) was once the mayor of New Buffalo, Michigan. I looked it up once in a book about New Buffalo, but couldn’t find him there.

But newspapers had the answer! The Benton Harbor (MI) News-Palladium from March 9, 1937 revealed that “Fred” was elected president of the village of New Buffalo on the Progressive ticket with 259 votes.

fred_mayor

As reported in the May 9, 1939 issue of the News-Palladium, Mayor Fred Moore threw out the first pitch at the first high school (?) baseball game of the year.

fred_baseball

Week 13 (March 25-31): In the Paper

#9 Divorce of Mae and William Oakes

When Ancestry added “Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952” a couple of years ago, lots of questions were answered in my family tree and also lots of theories were confirmed.

Finally, I was able to see the divorce record of my great-grandparents, Mae (Moore) and William Oakes, my grandmother Helen’s parents. They were married December 23, 1908 in Detroit and had one child. Mae filed for divorce on August 31, 1914 (when Helen was only 2 years old). It was granted on July 13, 1915 and the cause was cruelty and non-support. William did not contest the divorce.

divorce_mae_william_oakes_1915
Divorce record of Mae and William Oakes, 1915

It was also interesting to be able see divorces that were filed, but never went through. One of these I found was for William Oakes’ parents, Henry and Minnie. They were married April 8, 1877 in Dearborn, Michigan and had 4 children. Minnie filed for divorce on October 16, 1900 and the causes were drunkenness and cruelty. It was still pending at the end of 1900 and apparently never went through because Minnie still received Henry’s Civil War pension after his death. By 1910, Henry was at the Michigan Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids and died in 1922 at the Soldier’s Home in Milwaukee.

divorce_minnie_henry_oakes_1900
Pending divorce of Minnie and Henry Oakes, 1900

Week 9 (February 25-March 3): At the Courthouse

#6 Hazel B. Moore (1888)

It’s often surprising in my research when I find that my ancestors had more children than I thought they did. One example is my great-great grandparents Fred and Mina Moore. They were married in September 1885 in Plymouth, Michigan. They had a child I didn’t know about named Hazel, who was born January 5, 1888 and died August 1, 1888 of cholera. She is listed as male in her death registration, but female in her birth registration.

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Hazel B. Moore’s Death Registration

Week 6 (February 4-10): Surprise