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!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Family History Expos Comes to Colorado Springs June 1-2

I'm so excited that Holly Hansen has chosen Colorado Springs, Colorado as a destination for her Family History Expo this year. In past years the Colorado Expo has been held in Loveland, Colorado at the fine facility of the Embassy Suites. However, that venue was not available this year. Those of us in the more southern part of the state are blessed that we're able to travel to the Crowne Plaza to attend this year's Expo in Colorado Springs. Since we reside in Canon City, only 45 minutes south of Colorado Springs, my husband and I could drive back and forth to attend the Expo, as many of our Canon City Genealogy Consultants are doing. However, we've chosen to stay overnight at the Crowne Plaza to give us a more restful experience. 

The Expo will convene on Friday, June 1st at 1:00 pm with the Keynote Address by Don R. Anderson, Senior Vice President of FamilySearch. I can't wait to hear Mr. Anderson's address. I always learn a lot and get more motivated to be a better genealogist. Classes are scheduled until 9:00 pm on Friday. By staying overnight there, I'll have the convenience of going to my room to blog and post photos from the days' activities. 

Classes will resume at 10:00 am Saturday, June 2 and will continue until 4:30 pm, with a wrap-up address given by Holly Hansen. Many prizes are given away at this final address too, so be sure to register in each of your classes and enter to win some very significant prizes!

In addition to learning the latest research techniques and learning about the cutting edge research tools at the abundant classes, taught by the Speakers listed HERE, you'll have the opportunity to meet genealogy vendors in the Exhibit Hall and view and purchase products from companies like Family Roots Publishing and the Genealogical Institute. 

You can find all the details about the Expo here at the Family History Expos website. If you register by May 2, you'll be able to take advantage of the extremely reasonable fee of $49! So think about it, read all about it and register NOW! I'd love to meet you in Colorado Springs June 1st and 2nd!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

1930 Census Find: My Granduncle Lew Becker's Neighbors

In my study of my family history, the thing that amazes me the most is finding CONNECTIONS between one side of my family and another side, or a family of someone else in my life, such as a step-parents, ex-husband, or my husband's family. 

In the photo above, you see page 3A from the 1930 census for Eureka Township, Barton County, Kansas. On line 38 is listed the name of Lewis L. Becker, who is the brother of my maternal grandmother Nannie Becker Flanders. I wrote a story about Uncle Lew in the previous post here on "Grace and Glory" as he appeared in the 1940 census. A fact that I had not noticed in earlier searches of this image is that the Rosa Mantz family is living next door (on the farm) to Uncle Lew Becker's family. A son of Rosa Mantz is Edward Mantz, age 34. As it happens, I knew Ed Mantz. His son Gail Mantz is married to Marilyn Klein, the sister of my ex-husband Billy Dean Klein. Many were the occasions when I was in the company of Ed and his wife Violet Mantz, as our families joined together to celebrate holidays or family birthdays in the 1970s and 1980s. I HAD NO IDEA that Ed resided next to my granduncle Lew Becker prior to his marriage to Violet Brack in 1938. If I'd know that, I could have visited with him and would have learned more about Uncle Lew. As it was, I only recall being in the company of Uncle Lew once in my early life, and being the shy little girl that I was, I certainly didn't speak to him! Opportunities missed because I didn't know then what I know now. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

House (County Jail) Identified from 1940 Census

John Joseph "Joe" Becker, Great Bend, Barton, Kansas
Last month my genealogist cousin Kate Keller graciously shared the  photo above on Facebook of our great grandfather John Joseph "Joe" Becker. We knew it was taken in my home town of Great Bend, Barton, Kansas and judging from a car we noticed in the background, my husband estimated it was taken in the very late 1930s or 1940. My father is still alive and, at age 90, has a very acute mind and memory, so I asked him if he remembered where Joe Becker might have lived in 1940. It was in 1943 that my dad married my mother Ruby Flanders, Joe Becker's granddaughter, in the same town of Great Bend, Kansas. Dad said he didn't remember my mother ever talking about her grandpa so he wasn't able to identify the house.
When the 1940 Census became available on Monday, April 2, my same dear cousin was able to search for and find Great Grandpa Joe Becker in that census. She emailed me a copy of the census page and said "I found him!". As I reviewed the page, I noticed that Joe was living with his son Lew, daughter-in-law Ellen and grandson Larry. Their residence was 1400 Kansas and Lew's occupation was Sheriff. I remembered that "house" as it also housed the County Jail in the 1940s and 1950s. I was fortunate to have visited my Granduncle Lew Becker while he was serving as the Barton County Sheriff. But I had not remembered it well enough to identify it as the house in the photo above.

Last night I found this old photo of the Barton County Jail as I searched on Google Images. It had been available on ebay.
Barton County Jail, Great Bend, Barton, Kansas 1907
It's quite apparent that it's the same house in the photo at the top of this post. 

Here's another photo shared with me by Kate Keller of Great Grandpa Joe Becker on the porch of the same residence.
Joe Becker on the porch of the jail/house at 1400 Kansas Avenue, Great Bend, Barton, Kansas
It's wonderful that we're finally allowed access to the 1940 census so we can answer some of these "puzzles" we've encountered over the years of doing the family history research. And I'm very blessed to have a cousin like Kathryn "Kate" Keller who has researched our family for so many more years than I have, who has ownership of a LOT of old family photos, and who is so gracious and willing to share these family treasures!! Thank you, Kate!