A widow at age 24 in 1910 – how terribly sad! Or is it?

Everyone loves a good book …. preferably one where the story line involves a mystery and a few photos along the way…. I was handed such a “book” and asked if I could finish the last chapter that was missing several pieces that would make the tale complete …. a challenge I took and ran with.

The story beings:
– Boy is born in 1883.
– Girl is born in 1885.
– Boy meets girl and marries her in December 1904.
– Baby makes three in April 1905. Yes, we can all do the math.
– In the 1910 census she is listed as a widow at age 24 with a son aged 4.

The boy who became her husband has died. How sad to think of her alone with a child at such a young age.

So, now the story now continues:
– Girl meets new man and marries again in 1914.
– The new family has moved to east side of state.
– They live there for about 14 years.
– They move back to the west side of the state 6 weeks before she dies in 1928.
– She is buried in the family plot.

This is what I was handed by the family – and what I had to work with. Let the hunting begin.

I searched our local “big city” newspapers and found the obituary for the girl that reported that she succumbed after a long illness. The obit also stated where she would be interred.

Upon visiting the family plot to take photos of the headstone, I noticed that the headstone next to hers was that of her son, and it showed that he died a year later. So, I have found them buried next to each other on the west side of the state where the story started. But, I wonder, where is her first love? There is no headstone or marker for him next to her…

So I know that the original three are deceased … I have obituaries for the girl and and child, I have seen her headstone and her son’s headstone, and I have a 1910 Census that records that the girl is a widow. I do not have an obituary for the boy. I can not find a death record for the boy. I can not find a burial record for the boy. Without this information we cannot write the final chapter to their story.

I then had an idea… what if I head to the local library of the small town the family first resided, and where the mother and son are recorded to be still living in the 1910 census? I reasoned that since this town was rather small, the local newspaper which consisted of two whole pages at that time might have some announcement of the deaths of the girl and possibly later on her child.

Using the death date for the mom that was engraved on the stone and later confirmed in the big city newspaper obituary, I searched the year and all the newspaper mentioned was she was married to our boy in 1904, and then again in 1914, and survived by her son and second husband. OK, that fits. The newspaper confirmed that she succumbed to a long illness and lists her buried in the correct cemetery.

I then searched for her son using the death date engraved on his stone and confirmed in the big city newspaper’s obituary. There, on the front page, was an article describing in full detail a horrific automobile accident that had killed the son. The article stated that he was leaving behind his widow and his two daughters, aged three years and two months. The very last line of the article stated he is also survived by his father on the east side of the state!!

WHAT?? In 1910 she stated that she was a widow!!

I read the whole article again, and right there in black and white it reported that his father is alive. I picked my jaw up off the ground and tried to catch my breath. Now, if only I could make my mind slow down a bit and let me get my thoughts in order.

So, let me recap-
– Boy meets girl.
– Boy marries girl.
– Child makes three.
– Boy dies and girl is a widow.
– Girl remarries.
– Girl dies.
– Child dies.
– Boy is reported to be alive!

The story will continue after this intermission… time to hit the concession stand!

– Genealogy Huntress


About Hunting Down History

Megan Heyl is a genealogist, researcher and teacher and has been involved in genealogy for many years. She is a member of NGS, APG, and several state and local genealogical societies.
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