Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Where Were They in 1940?

September 3rd, 2012 1 comment

Every ten years the US Census Bureau makes public the census from 72 years prior and back in April they made public the complete images of 1940 US Census. At that time there was not a name index for the records thus making it very difficult to find anyone in the census unless you knew the exact street address where they lived in 1940. I had a fairly good idea of where my parents and their parents and grandparents were living in 1940, but I had an exact street address for only one those households and even then that proved to be a challenge. I know that my mother’s grandparents owned a home in Louisville, Kentucky at 1528 South Third Street and I know this because their house still stands in what is the Preservation District in Louisville. Yet what I did not realize is that it 1940 there were actually two different houses in different parts of the city that were listed as 1528 S. Third Street and this really complicated my search.

As it turns out the city of Louisville had started a program of re-numbering the streets back in the mid-1920s but fifteen years later due to budget constraints the process was not yet completed. Even though I had a street address, not having a name index to the census records, it took me a number of hours examining numerous records before I found my great-grandparents. I did this search at the US Census 1940 web site:

In 1940, my great-grandfather, Erhard Joseph (Jo-jo) Kollros, a CPA by profession, was working as a statistician for the WPA (Work Progress Administration). He was 60 years old and had an annual income of $858. He and his wife, my great-grandmother, Catherine (Beenie) Kollros, lived with her brother, Arthur J Bannon. Uncle Artie’s age was listed as 58 and he was a Plasterer-Building Contractor with an annual income of $1,380. My great-grandmother was notorious for lying about her’s and her husband’s age. In 1940, Catherine was actually 64 and her husband was the same age as her younger brother.

Today I discovered that there is now a name index for US Census 1940 and it can be found at Having a name index makes a big difference and in matter of minutes I was able to locate the rest of my parent’s family in the census records.

In 1940, my dad’s family lived at 218 West 10th Street, Hastings, Adams, Nebraska. My grandfather was a medical doctor and in 1940 he was earning $5,000 a year. He was 45 years old in 1940. His wife, Geraldine was 46. Daughter, Geraldine De Backer was 21. Leo was 18. Dick was 14. Martha was 13. My father, David was 11. Bobbie was 9 and Judy was one year old.

My maternal grandparents were divorced in the mid-1930’s. In 1937 my grandmother remarried and in 1940 she and her second husband were living near the Cumberland River outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They lived at 1429 McAlpine Ave in what is the Inglewood area of Davidson county Tennessee. My mom’s step-dad, John R. Coarsey was a 41 year old real estate salesman making $2,000 a year. My grandmother, Dorothy was 32 years old in 1940. My mom was 11. Her sister, Joie was 9 and her half-brother, John Robert (Bob), Jr. was two years old. Unlike the previous censuses, the 1940 census asks where the respondents lived five years earlier. So we know from the records that my mother and her family were living in Tampa, Florida in 1935.

My maternal grandfather, James M. Dobbs, Jr. lived in his home state of Texas in 1940. He also had remarried and he, his wife, Helen (Mewhinney) Dobbs, and his mother, Helen (Spiegel) Dobbs were living at 1605 Ashland Ave, Fort Worth, Tarrant, Texas. Jimmy Dobbs, age 37, worked as an auditor for the US Soil Conservation Corps and had an annual income of $1,800. Helen, age 41, who previously also worked for the US government, was now un-employed. My great-grandmother, Helen (Nellie) (Spiegel) Dobbs was 67 years old. From the record I learned that my grandfather and his wife had lived in San Antonio in 1935 and my great-grandmother was living outside of Atlanta in College Park, Folsom county, Georgia in that same year.

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Map Shows De Backer Windmill in 1770′s

December 2nd, 2011 Comments off

A few years ago a correspondent in Belgium sent me an image of a map of Ronse, Belgium made in the mid-18th century. He wrote that the structure depicted in the lower center of the map was of a windmill owned by my ancestor (ggggg-grandfather) Judocus (Joos) De Backer (1723 – 1797) and that the windmill stood in what is now a city park in Ronse known as the Bruul (see here for that image). Last night I came across a very detailed map of Belgium made by the Austrian cartographer, Joseph Jean François, count de Ferrari, in the 1770’s. The Ferrari Cabinet map, made between 1771 and 1778, was commissioned by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and her son Emp. Joseph II to detail their Austrian Netherlands, as Belgium was known in those years. A page of that map shows the city of Ronse (Renaix) in the 1770’s and upon close inspection one can see that two windmills are depicted in this sector. In the second image below the windmill in the lower left corner corresponds to the windmill drawn in the earlier map from the early 18th century.


The Ferrari map can be seen in detail by going to Ferraris Cabinet KBR Map Viewer.

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Cassini III Map On-line

November 25th, 2011 Comments off

In 1744, César-François Cassini de Thury (also known as Cassini III), began the construction of a great topographical map of France, one of the landmarks in the history of cartography. The map that eventually took 70 years to complete has been digitized and is available for viewing on at least two sites that I have found – the first site being the better of the two: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection and Des Villages de Cassini. I was able to find the sections of the map that shows the region of eastern France where my Franc-Comtois ancestors lived. The first image below is centered on the town of Montecheroux from where my ggg-grandfather,  Jean Baptiste Francois Xavier Jeanin-Gaume, emigrated in the 1830’s.

The second image shows the larger area that my Franc-Comtois ancestors hailed from. Click the image to view the detail. In the lower left is Montecheroux which was then in the principality of Montebeliard and is now in France. In the upper right is Chevenez and Porrentruy which was then in the Bishopric of Basel and is now in Switzerland.

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Dobbs Dispatches from Valparaiso

September 10th, 2011 Comments off

In a previous post, I describe how I obtained on microfilm the dispatches that my great grandfather, J. M. Dobbs, Sr. sent from Chile while he was posted there as consul general to Valparaiso from 1893 to 1897. Below are links to images of only a few of the 200 pages I found on the microfilm.

5 July 1893 – JMD’s first dispatch to the State Department announcing his arrival in Valparaiso after first reporting in to the embassy in Santiago. The man whom my great-grandfather reported to, Ambassador Patrick Egan, was a controversial figure who was accused on occasion of attempting to incite a war with Chile over the control of the Panama isthmus and the west coast of South America.

6 July 1893 – JMD’s second dispatch to the State Department, where he and previous consul general sign over the office.

1893 – JMD’s drawing of floor plan of second floor of building on Calle Blanco where the US consulate is located. When he arrived in 1893 the consul office was located on the second floor of a dilapidated building at 140 Calle Blanco (behind the janitor’s closet). The annual rent was $58 and my great grandfather complains in one dispatch that the cramped office was “unclean” and that the furniture in the office is 25 to 35 years old. By July of 1894 he had gotten permission from Washington to re-locate to a two room office on the 2nd floor of 430 Calle Blanco, purchase new furniture, and hire a clerk. He reports that his offices are next door to the offices of the German consulate and that his residence is in an apartment on the third floor of that same building. His clerk was paid $400 a year and the rent for the new offices was $90 a year.

16 September 1895 – JMD files a report regarding the disappearance of Alfred E. Sutro, nephew of then mayor of San Francisco, Adolph Sutro. A search of the internet for Alfred E. Sutro comes up dry, so it is unknown whatever became of the missing Sutro.

2 September 1895 – Another report regarding the disappearance of Alfred E. Sutro.

10 November 1895 – JMD’s report regarding the wreck of SS Parthia, an American vessel which caught fire off the coast of Chile near the Juan Fernández Islands.

19 November 1895 – JMD was responsible for hiring “consul agents” residing in other locations on the Chilean coast who reported to him. In one dispatch he reports to Washington that he could not find an American citizen to act as “consul agent” in Punta Arenas (at the straits of Magellan) and that he had hired a Russian to act as the American representative in that town.

28 August 1897 – JMD files a three-page report regarding the shipwreck of an American vessel, the SS Nonatum, whose crew was stranded on Easter Island for 43 days before being rescued by a Chilean schooner.

23 October 1897 – JMD’s last dispatch from Chile as he signs over the office the new incoming Consul General.

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