1920 Federal Census in Union, Barton, Kansas: Lena is living in the household of my grandfather John Margheim age 20. Lena is listed as sister, unemployed, age 28 (born about 1892)
I mailed a request for a copy of her death certificate last month and just yesterday received it in the mail. That's the very best kind of mail! As you might be able to see, Lena died while in residence at the Topeka State Hospital, in Topeka, Kansas. She died January 3, 1928 as a result of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at age 36 (indicating she was born about 1892). She was buried January 5, 1928 in Hoisington, Kansas. My grandparents are buried in the Hoisington, Kansas cemetery, but my dad says Lena is not buried there. Her name is not listed on any online inventories of burials there either. Tomorrow I'll be calling the cemetery office to inquire further. My Dad believes she's buried in the Michaelis Cemetery, Russell, Kansas alongside her father and mother. However, her name is not listed in the online listing of burials there either. Dad thinks he's taken a photo of her headstone, so I'll be digging for that in the next week or so too.
Lena's birth date is left blank on the death certificate. Wouldn't you know it?
This is a copy of a page from the Margheim Family Bible, translated by a translator for the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. It's included in the "Descendants of Gottlieb Margheim" genealogy book prepared and published by Clarence Margheim, one of my distant cousins. The translation says "Elsaa Margheim", born in the year 7 May 1883, baptized 8 May 1883 in Friedenfeld, Godparents Elisabeth Margheim, Eliesbeth Winder. Incidentally, her father was also born on May 7th, 26 years earlier in 1857. Was Lena born in 1883? I tend to believe she was born on the date recorded in the family Bible. But why does her age vary so often in the census listings? I know there are often variations in peoples' birth dates, death dates, burial dates, names, spellings, etc. I'm just wondering what the true story is about my Grandaunt Lena Margheim.
I don't know when Lena was admitted to the Topeka State Hospital, but the death certificate indicates that the doctor treated her from 1926-1928. It's possible that she was admitted to that facility for treatment of the tuberculosis, but I think she was probably admitted becasue of the "mental illness" my dad had heard mentioned, and probably contracted the tuberculosis while living there. I've read online about the unsanitary and very undesirable living conditions of that facility at that time.
I wish I could sit down and interview my grandaunt "Elsaa Lena". I've been so drawn to her lately, even though my research plan was focused on continuing the research into my son's birth family. As quite often happens, I got sidetracked. Certain ancestors seem to call me and just won't fade away for another day. I know she has a great story to tell! And I'd listen. Very intently.