Saturday, April 28, 2012

1940 Census led to Discovery of Family Elder Abuse

I was excited this week when I discovered that the 1940 census index for Colorado was now available. I knew that my paternal grandmother from Kansas had relatives living here about that time. I entered her maiden name of Koleber and my search brought up the images listing her brother Fred's family. In a quick glance of the page I also noticed a listing for another younger brother Henry and his wife Eva. The wife Eva was new to me. In my RootsMagic database, I had a wife listed whom he married in 1929 and a wife that he married in 1959, but neither was named Eva. I had sent a message to the daughter-in-law of Fred Koleber telling her of the 1940 census image availability and in return she asked me if I knew anything about Eva. Since my dad lives near me, I asked him yesterday if he recalled any information about his Uncle Henry's wife Eva. He knew of her but didn't know anything more about her. The "cousin" whom I had messaged wrote me back notifying me of the naturalization record for Eva that was available at How wonderful it is to be able to collaborate with cousins in our research efforts! 

Mr and Mrs Henry Koleber, taken in the 1970s. 
As the night wore on, I started doing more searching on Google for information about my granduncle Henry. Since I had not been aware that he had three wives, I wondered what other good bits of information I wasn't aware of! My searching paid off....big time. Oh, the surprises that are sometimes in store! I knew the name of Uncle Henry's third wife so searching for her name brought up pages and pages of links to articles that told the story of Elder Abuse to her by her daughter and granddaughter (from a previous marriage---not descendants of Uncle Henry). It seems my grandaunt's daughter J. W. had a history of violence and abuse to her own son G. W. and daughter C.W. About a decade ago, J. W., along with her daughter C. W. moved their widowed mother and grandmother from Florida to their residence in California, took her estate valued in excess of $400,000, spent it on two homes, and medicated the 95-year-old victim enough to cause her death. One of the details about this story that caused it to be covered widely in the newspapers was that C. W. was a well-known and respected member of the medical community. 

Oh the things we don't know about our families, even after researching for decades sometimes. I've only been researching my family history for 13 years, but didn't know my granduncle Henry had been married 3 times. And that was a well-known fact to my dad, with whom I've visited extensively during the last few years. I think I need to print a lot of family group sheets and sit down with him and go over every little detail while he's still able to recall so much about his family. Let's see...I could do that in the 25th and 26th hours of my days!


Michelle Goodrum said...

Wow! Fascinating story.

Greta Koehl said...

Isn't it amazing how much we don't know! This is a reminder to me to get back in touch with my cousins; our parents have all passed on, but my older cousins still have a treasure trove of stories.

Jo Graham said...

Poor Eva - how awful. I feel the need to visit my aunt now!

Joyce said...

You definitely need to keep asking your father questions to tap into his memory. Sure wish I had done that with my parents. I did videotape my dad's only remaining brother a few years ago for an hour "interview" with questions prepared in advance by my brother & me. Have you done that with your father?