Genealogy is like a jigsaw puzzle, but you don't have the box top, so you don't know what the picture is supposed to look like. As you start putting the puzzle together, you realize some pieces are missing, and eventually you figure out that some of the pieces you started with don't actually belong to this puzzle. I'll help you discover the right pieces for your puzzle and assemble them into a picture of your family.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Where did Mabell go?
I haven't been able to find her in the Missouri death or marriage databases. I can't find her in the 1920 or 1930 censuses. I can't find her in city directories. I can't find evidence that she came back to California. I haven't found her in the newspaper after the 1905 notice. I simply can't find a reference to her after 1911.
I know Thomas was living with his father in 1920 and then pretty much stayed with him until George's death in 1952. Thomas died in 1974. Neither of their obituaries mentions Mabell.
Mabell's youngest brother died in 1937. His obituary mentions two surviving brothers but nothing about Mabell. The oldest brother, who died in 1942, didn't have an obituary that I can find. The middle brother died in 1964; his obituary also doesn't mention Mabell, but it doesn't mention the two brothers who predeceased him, either.
Obviously, Mabell didn't really disappear. She died or remarried, and I haven't been able to pick up the trail in online databases. She moved around quite a bit, so I can't assume she stayed in Kansas City. So what's my point?
The point is that I've only been using online resources so far. You can do a lot with the information available online, but you can't do everything. An estimate I have heard consistently is that only about 10% of records that genealogists use are online. If I had limitless funds and time, I would probably take a trip to Kansas City and try to find more detailed information about Mabell there. I would want to look at the actual indices of deaths and marriages, because there is always the possibility of mistakes and omissions in transcribing these lists into searchable databases. Mabell's father was from Missouri; I could trace his family to see if it was from the Kansas City area, which would have given her a reason to go there. I might try to get the divorce decree from Washoe County to see if it has any clues. I would try to track down every living relative on both sides of the family and contact each person to see if anyone has any information.
The practicalities of family history research, however, are that we never have limitless funds or time. We have to narrow our focus and pick and choose what we can spend time and money on. In Mabell's case, I can't afford to go to Kansas City, so I'm trying to decide the next logical step after having looked at marriage, death, census, directory, and newspaper listings.
I think I'm going to try to find descendants of her youngest brother, who was the first to pass away. I've already determined that her oldest brother had only one son and then divorced, so the odds are less of him having stayed in touch with his father's family. The middle brother married later in life and did not have children of his own; his wife had children from a former marriage. If any branch of the family remembers Mabell, the youngest son's is the most likely. And he had five children, giving me more chances of finding a descendant alive today.
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