31 March 2012

He Was Married Four Times to Two Women

     I'm doing a little bit of last minute 1940 Census prep research.  I have never been able to find my maternal grandmother's parents, Vary "Mack" Huyler and Ruby Waters, in the 1930 census.  They would be married less than a year later in Atlanta, Georgia, but I just can't find them.

     Thanks to city directories, I know exactly where Ruby will be found in 1940: living in Atlanta with her second husband.  But what about Mack? I know he left Ruby shortly after their daughter was born to "find work." He didn't return for 14 years. So where was he in 1940?

     I know from his social security application that he was in Augusta, Georgia in 1937. That's where I planned to look. But today I decided to do one last run through city directories to see if I could find a listing for him in a 1940 book. I didn't find him in 1940, but I did find him in 1939 - in Greensboro, North Carolina. With a wife. Surprise!

     Well, something of a surprise.  I know who Ruth was. She was Ruth Sexton, Mack's second wife... or third... or would that be fourth? I guess it depends on how you count. Based on the information I have, it now looks like she's both Mack's 2nd and 4th wife, with my Great-Grandmother Ruby Waters being his 1st and 3rd.  Mack was married four times, to two women.  Here's the timeline I can piece together:
mack & ruth huyler
  • Feb 1931 - Mack Huyler m. Ruby Waters, Atlanta (marriage certificate)
  • abt 1937 - Ruby Waters m. Cecil Whitfield (city directory)
  • by 1939 - Mack Huyler m. Ruth Sexton (city directory)
  • Dec 1947 - Mack Huyler m. Ruby Waters (bible record)
  • abt 1960 - Mack Huyler m. Ruth Sexton (obituary)
     I have evidence of a lot of marriages, but I don't have any official records. Even the first marriage between Ruby and Mack, I have a certificate but I haven't found an actual license (I assume the online database is incomplete and that microfilm in not available at the archive).  And what about divorces? Hopefully the couples were legally divorced...

     And hopefully Mack can still be found at 710 Railroad St for the 1940 census.  If so, he'll be in ED 41-58 in either block 313 or 314. Fingers crossed!

29 March 2012

What's So Exciting About the 1940 Census?

1940 census     I think my co-workers think I'm a little crazy. Ask me what's new or what I've been up to lately and I'll start gushing excitedly about the upcoming release of the 1940 census.  I mostly get a blank look before they remember that I do genealogy as a hobby (I probably offered to look their ancestors up at some point). I've has some funny responses, including "oh, you mean that thing they did a few years ago - I didn't fill that out."

     I have Monday and Tuesday off from work (random chance) and my mom is working evening shifts. I've already told her that I'll be putting her to work (to which she responded with a "oh really, you think so do you?" look). If our internet isn't going fast enough (it's basic DSL) I might go sit in the coffee shop at B&N to see if theirs is any faster (also, I wouldn't mind a brownie).  I'm prepared for site delays or crashes, but I'm also hoping for the best.  Typing this I feel like I'm getting even more excited for Monday.

     But why am I so excited? I'm pretty much geeking out about the 1940 Census and my co-workers don't really get it. Heck, I've read blog posts by genealogists who say that they're not that excited. So let me explain "why."

  • I ♡ genealogy.
  • One of the reasons I love genealogy is because it's like a puzzle. Finding my family in the 1940 census will be like one big giant puzzle (where's Waldo...?). I have a good number of ancestors who were alive in 1940 that I want to find.
  • The census will provide new information or clarify information I already have: jobs, relationships, locations, etc. Even if I already know where they lived from city directories, I'm still going to gain information from the new records.
  • I ♡ old documents. Even if I don't get any new information (but I will!), I will still have a new record of each ancestor. A new document that lists their name = exciting.
  • The attention that the census release will bring to genealogy is great. More people doing family history research can only be a good thing. More money for companies, more volunteers = more records available online. Yay!

27 March 2012

They Were Closed, So We Got Donuts

     I went to the library this morning, only to find that the only branch of the Gwinnett County Library system that has microfilm records is closed. They have been closed since the beginning of February. And from information I managed to find on their Facebook page (yes, Facebook - their website doesn't give any dates), they don't plan to be finished until the fall. And it doesn't appear that they moved the microfilm to another branch. Seriously? This kinda sucks.

     I was very disappointed, so I went and got a bunch of donuts.

15 March 2012

Tech Talk

     It's interesting to think about the changes that have come about in technology since, and during, my grandparents' generation.  In the 1940s, just like today, technology was constantly evolving and, in most cases, have no resemblance to today.

     As a young teen girl in Atlanta, my Grandmama road the streetcars to get around town.  These have been defunct since 1949 but are being re-installed this year.  I kinda want to go ride one when they get them up and running to see what it might have been like for her. (See a photo of a 1945 streetcar)

     My Great-Aunt Ree recently mentioned that the family often spent the evening together, sitting around the radio. Her family wouldn't have a television until the late 1940s when her step-father bought one. She also remembered living in a hotel owned by her family and the telephone in the lobby. One phone for the entire hotel, verses today where everyone has a phone in their pocket!

     My father's sister, my Aunt June, remembers growing up in a house where the only source of water was a well.  The family had to tote water into the house for washing clothes, dishes and themselves. And yes, they had an outhouse.  They wouldn't have inside running water until well into the 1950s!

     I can't even imagine how changes in medicine and health care have changed lives. My Great-Grandfather died of tuberculosis in 1947. New cures and standard vaccinations for many diseases, such as whooping cough and diphtheria, became common in the late 1940s and saved countless lives.

     I'm very grateful for the improvements in technology, as I'm sure generations past have been. To find out more about life in the 1940s, check out the 1940 Census website. If you're a blogger, make sure to sign up for their Ambassador Program. You'll also find out more information on how you can take part in indexing the 1940 Census. You can also enter contests to win prizes (simply by writing blog posts like this one, which is an entry into a contest to win a $50 gift card).

12 March 2012

Times Change - Thank Goodness

     My sister and I went out driving near her house today, stopping at random cemeteries to take photos of headstones. The Windsor Universalist Church had a small cemetery and this outhouse beyond that. I am so thankful for today's technology.

09 March 2012

Famous Cousins: Edith Fellows

     A lot of people are interested in genealogy because they want to find connections to famous cousins: entertainers, politicians, historical figures, etc. Although this isn't a motivator for me, it is always interesting when I find them (I admit, it was cool to find out that Johnny Cash is my 3rd Cousin, 2x removed).

     I recently received some documents and photos of another famous cousin, though I admit I had never heard of her: Edith Fellows. She was a child actor in the 1930s and re-emerged in the 1980s. Our relationship is somewhat tenuous: she's my Great-Great Aunt Gladys Witt Fellows' step-daughter.  Edith sent letters and photos to her father and step-mother, a few of which have now come into my possession.

     Edith played Polly Pepper in the "Little Peppers" movies, worked with Bing Crosby in "Pennies from Heaven" and Gene Autry in "Heart of the Rio Grande." Here's a photo of her that is supposed to be from her movie with Gene Autry:

Edith Fellows

     I have three letters that she wrote. In them she mentions a role she's up for, as well as other things going on at the time, such as World War II.  I hesitate to post the letter because, although she has passed away and they don't contain private information, I don't feel like I have to right to share them with the world. 

     One interesting thing I do have and will post is a telegram that she sent to her father when her grandmother died. I find the concept of telegrams very interesting in an age of text messaging.


08 March 2012

Talking with Aunt Ree about the 1940s

     I visited with my Great-Aunt Ree yesterday and made a point to talk to her about our family history. I've interviewed her before and she's always willing to talk about anything she can remember.

     I asked her about growing up in mill towns.  Most of her memories come from when she was between 10 and 15 years of age, around 1940 to 1945.  This is great information considering my interest in the upcoming 1940 Census release.

     Her family worked in cotton mills in Greenville, South Carolina, such as Brandon Mill and Judson Mill, before moving to Atlanta around 1945.  Her mother, Auline, worked as a spinner and her father, Vernon, worked as a doffer, while Aunt Ree worked as a battery hand. My Grandaddy, Ree's brother, also worked in the mills though I'm not sure what job he did.

     Apparently Vernon was involved in a (failed) effort to start a Union during the depression, which got him blacklisted from mill work. The family had to move to Clinton, SC to find work for a while until they could find work in Greenville again.  Aunt Ree said that a mill worker might make $20 a week, spent $2 to rent a house in the mill village, and spent $5-$7 on groceries. During the war families never ran through their ration coupons (except sugar) simply because they didn't have the money to do so.

     I recorded our conversation and will create videos about them. If you haven't seem them yet, you can view some of the videos I've made from previous conversation with Aunt Ree, many of which pertain to World War II. Click Here.

05 March 2012

Two Joes, Thanks to the USO

(Uncle) Joe Funston and Joe E. Brown

    The 1940 Census Community Project recently blogged about the USO and their role in World War II. Some of their activities involved celebrities boosting troop moral with performances. 

    My aunt has the original of this photo, which belonged to my Great-Uncle (by marriage on my paternal side), Joe Funston. Here he is posing with Joe E Brown, a popular comedian from that time.

    I'm not sure the date or exact location of the photo, except that it would have been after Nov 1941 when Joe Funston enlisted.

    And I believe that my Great-Aunt Ree (maternal side) mentioned that the women in her family volunteered with their local USO during the war. I'll have to ask her more questions about that.


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