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

#47 Milo A. Thompson

Milo Alfonzo Thompson is a step-relative. He was the father of Bert L. Thompson who married my great-great grandmother Mina Bolt Moore in 1924. Mina died in 1942 and Bert died in 1966. He lived with my mother’s family when she was a kid, so our family has all his papers and pictures, since he had no children or immediate family.

Bert’s dad, Milo, was born in Tioga, Pennsylvania on July 10, 1836 to Bethlehem Thompson and Louisa Chilson. He had four sisters, two of whom (Bethia and Ann) died in 1841 and were buried in Addison, Steuben County, New York. Sometime between 1852 and 1860, Bethlehem brought his family to Michigan. Milo married Ruth E. Noble on January 2, 1860 in Oakland County, Michigan and they lived in Oxford, Michigan. Their first son John Wesley Thompson was born on September 9, 1860.

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Milo A. Thompson, 1861         (photo courtesy of author)

At the start of the Civil War, Milo joined the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Company G. The unit was organized in Detroit from August 21 to September 6 and mustered in on September 13, 1861. The 1st  became part of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade along with the 5th, 6th, and 7th MI Cavalry Regiments. Company G was composed of men from Wayne and Oakland Counties. A roster can be found here. The 1st participated in battles from Winchester, Virginia on Mar. 23, 1862 to Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865. In the 1890 Veterans Schedule, a remark on Milo’s entry says “reenlisted,” but I’m not sure of dates. Milo and Ruth’s second son, George Bethlehem Thompson, was born in Oxford, Michigan on November 12, 1863. I don’t know if he was home in February 1863 on leave or if he was finished with his service and hadn’t reenlisted yet.

After the war, Milo and Ruth had four more children: Violet, Gracie, Albert, and Bert. Violet died September 6, 1870 of brain fever – she was only 1. Gracie and Albert died within a month of each other in early 1879 of diphtheria – Gracie was 6 and Albert was 4. John Wesley died on December 31, 1880 at the age of 20 of tuberculosis. He had married Katherine Weber on February 26, 1880 and she had given birth to their son on December 27, 1880. Bert was born November 3, 1879, and so grew up only knowing his older brother George.

In 1882, the family moved to Luzerne, Oscoda County, Michigan. Milo’s son George married Katie VanAntwerp on September 22, 1887 in Elmer Township. They eventually had 7 children. George died in 1944. Milo’s mother, Louisa, died at Milo’s home on December 21, 1889.

The May, 4, 1894 issue of the Crawford County Avalanche (Grayling, MI) had a disturbing story about Milo: “Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne, was assaulted by Eli Hagar, of that place, in a brutal manner, one day last week. Mr. Thompson is an old veteran and known by many of our readers.” He wasn’t even 58 yet, but I guess that counted as “old” in the 19th century. Milo’s wife Ruth died of unknown causes on November 27, 1896. Her obituary said she had only been sick for four days. According to the June 10, 1897 issue of the Avalanche, “Some vandal stole the flowers off the grave of the wife of Comrade Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne. She was buried in the cemetery at Lewiston.”

In the 1900 census, Milo and Bert were living with George and his family in Elmer Township. Milo died on August 4, 1908. His obituary was in the Avalanche on August 13, 1908.

Died – At Ely, Emmet Co., Mich., August 4, 1908., Milo A. THOMPSON, aged 72 years. The deceased was born in Westfield, Tiogo county, Penn., July 10, 1836. When but a young man he came to Oakland Co. On Jan., 2, 1860 he was married to Miss Ruth E. NOBLE. To them were born 6 children, two of whom are now living, Geo. B. and Burt L. THOMPSON, both of this place. In answer to this country’s call he enlisted as a soldier in Co. G. First Michigan Cavalry and did valiant service. He was discharged at the close of the war and returned to his home at Oxford, Mich. In the spring of ’82 he came north and settled at Luzerne, Mich., where he has since resided. His wife died Nov., 27, 1896 whose memory he has always cherished. His last days since her death have been spent among his children. Mr. THOMPSON had always enjoyed fairly good health until 3 years ago when he began to fail. He received a slight stroke of paralysis the last of March which was followed by a more severe one in April. After leaving the hospital and for the last seven weeks, he has been at Ely, Emmet Co., where at his Nephew’s on Tuesday, Aug., 4th., at 2 p.m. he breathed his last. He leaves two sons, one sister, nine grand children, two great grand children and a host of friends, acquaintances and old comrades. Rev. C. E. ROBINSON of Lansing, preached the sermon at Lewiston. He was a member of Marvin Post No. 240, G. A. R. of this place. The body was brought to Lewiston where the funeral services were held on the 6th., inst. The casket was borne to the grave by his comrades of the war.

Thompson graves
Ruth (stone at left) and Milo (stone at right), Albert Township Cemetery, Lewiston, Michigan

Week 47 (Nov. 18-24): Soldier

#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

#50 – Mina Bolt Moore Thompson

Mina Adell Bolt Moore Thompson, my great-great grandmother, lived for years with Bert Thompson while still married to my great-great grandfather Fred Moore! She and Bert were officially married about three weeks after Fred’s death.

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Bert & Mina

Mina A. Bolt and Fred L. Moore were married on September 10, 1885 in Plymouth, Michigan. They had five children between 1888 and 1897. Two daughters died before 1900. Two sons, Glenn and Earl, and another daughter, Mae, survived into adulthood. In 1900, the family was living in Plymouth and Fred was a railroad freight agent.

I’m not sure what happened to the marriage between 1900 and 1910, but in the 1910 Detroit City Directory, Mina was listed as widowed. In the 1910 Federal Census, she was listed as married and was boarding with her daughter Mae. She was listed as the housekeeper for the head of the household, Alta Fisher.

Sometime between 1910 and 1918, Mina met Bert Thompson. She was listed as his wife on his September 12, 1918 WWI Draft Registration card. And they were living at 370 Maple Ave. in Plymouth. Meanwhile, in 1919, Fred was selling grapes in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

fred_grapes
From the Sept. 10, 1919 Benton Harbor News-Palladium

In 1920, Bert and Mina were living as husband and wife on Columbia in Dearborn, while Fred was listed as divorced and living as a roomer with the Dean family in Benton Harbor. By March 1923, Fred was living in the Berrien County Poor Home. He died on November 4, 1924. On his death certificate, he was listed as widowed and his son Glenn was the informant.

This is odd, because Glenn’s mother Mina, was alive and well and married Bert Thompson in Toledo, Ohio on November 22, 1924. She was listed as divorced, but I’m not sure that Fred and Mina were ever legally divorced. Ancestors always keep you guessing!

bert-mina-1924

Week 50 (December 10-16): Naughty

Funeral Card Friday – Myrtle Mallard

funeralcards 021
Myrtle Mallard, born September 3, 1904, died December 25, 1972

Mallard’s Bar in Dearborn, Michigan was a bar frequented by my grandparents and great-grandparents.  Mom remembers going with her parents and playing games and eating hamburgers.  Grandpa Thompson used to get drunk and walk home (about a mile away on Bennet Street).  Myrtle V. Mallard was the wife of the owner, William L. Mallard.  According to the 1948 Polk’s Dearborn City Directory, Mallard’s was listed as a Beer Garden at 2247 S. Telegraph Rd.  William Mallard also owned a gas station at 2245 S. Telegraph Rd.  William and his wife Myrtle lived at 40140 Michigan Ave. in Wayne, Michigan.

Friday’s Faces from the Past – Bert Ludowick Thompson

bertcig

Another person I never knew, this is Bert Thompson, the 2nd husband of Mina (Bolt) Moore.  Mina was my great-grandma Mae’s mother.  So this is Mae’s step-dad.  Bert was born 3 Nov 1879 in Oxford, MI to Milo A. Thompson and Ruth Noble.  He married Mina on 24 Nov 1924, although he listed her in his 1918 Draft Registration Card as his wife and again she is listed as his wife in the 1920 U.S. Census.  Her estranged first husband, Fred Moore, died 4 Nov 1924 so perhaps that is why they weren’t officially  man and wife until 1924.  Anyway, Mina and Bert lived in Dearborn for many years, then Bert lived with my grandparents in the 1950s and 60s.  He died in January 1966.  When I was younger I saw all these family pictures from the 60s with this old man included in them and I always asked Mom who he was.  She said she didn’t know, only that she called him Grandpa Thompson.  So one of the fortunate finds from this genealogical journey is discovering just how this man “Grandpa Thompson” is related to us.

From Left: Mina Thompson, Bert Thompson, Mae Johnson, c1930s
From Left: Mina Thompson, Bert Thompson, Mae Johnson, c1930s

Military Monday – Milo Alfonzo Thompson

milo

Above is a picture of Milo A. Thompson, who served in the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Company G in the Civil War.  He was born in Pennsylvania on July 10, 1836.  He married Ruth E. Noble on January 2, 1860 in Oakland County, Michigan.  They lived in Oxford, Michigan until 1882 when they moved to Luzerne, Michigan.  They had 6 children.  One son, Bert L. Thompson (pictured below) married my great-great grandmother Mina Adell Bolt Moore in 1924.  Ruth died in 1896 and Milo died August 4, 1908 in Ely, Michigan at his nephew’s house.  They are buried in Lewiston, Michigan.

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Bert and Mina Thompson

Daily Blogging Prompt: Military Monday