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Monday, February 4, 2019
City Directories: Who's There? Who's Missing?
City directories were published frequently, making them an important source of info during years that fall between the Census. There's some element of luck--are directories available for the town or city where an ancestor lived? Are the directories available for the years being researched? But when the answer to both questions is yes, directories are fabulous for showing who was there, at that time and place. Equally important, a directory can indicate who is NOT there.
I just used directories to help solve a long-standing family history mystery. It all started with the complicated marital affairs of my husband's grandfather, James Edgar Wood. As I wrote yesterday, he married Mary Slatter in 1898, and when she died in 1925, he married Alice Hopperton Unger. In the spring of 1928, James divorced Alice. Later that year, James married Carolina "Carrie" Foltz Cragg (an in-law of his nephew).
Looking for Carrie Wood's Listing
What became of Carrie? She wasn't with James when he died. In fact, his death cert says he was widowed, and lists his deceased wife as Mary (the first wife). The informant was James's oldest son, who presumably was aware of at least one of the two marriages after Mary Slatter Wood's death. Like I said, it was complicated. Anyway...
My next stop was the Census, where Carrie was shown with James in 1930 in Jackson, Michigan, the same city where they were married in 1928.
Next, I looked at the city directories for Jackson, Michigan. Carrie was listed with James up to the year 1933. See the entry, at top, for that year.
But Carrie was missing from James's listing in 1935 in Jackson. Where did she go?
The wonderful cousin who's our long-time Wood genealogist suggested I look in Toledo (where James was born and where one of Carrie's grown children lived) or Cleveland (that's where James died). I found no Carrie Wood in the Toledo city directory, not even in the household of her daughter and son-in-law, who were listed in the directories. Then I tried something different.
Breakthrough Via Carrie's Grown Children
I looked at Carrie's other two children in the 1930s. One was married in 1935 in Jackson, MI. His actual marriage license was available and when I looked closely, I noticed one of the witnesses was . . . Carrie, his mom! There was her address--in Toledo, living with a daughter. Carrie was missing from the Toledo city directory, but she was noted on her son's marriage license in Jackson, where she must have gone for the wedding.
Now I returned to Family Search and looked for the death of Carolina Wood in Toledo, Ohio, between 1935 and 1939. I chose 1939 as the end date because that was when James died.
Immediately, up popped the death certificate for Caroline Wood. She had been diagnosed with cancer in 1933 and died in October, 1935, in Toledo.
This is definitely the correct Carrie because her daughter is the informant and lists Carrie's father's name, country of birth, and so on. The details are a good match, except for the name being "Caroline" instead of "Carolina." Carrie's address at the time of her death was the same as that of her daughter, the informant. So when Carrie became ill, it seems she went to live with her daughter, who took care of her until her death.
And to think it was Carrie's absence from the Jackson city directories after 1933 that provided a crucial clue in the trail of research that led to finding her final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo.