When we read the obituary for Maud Woodworth Bean’s father, William Woodworth, last week, it mentioned the closeness of the passing of two brothers. Speaking of William, the Covina Argus observed,
He is the third member of his family to pass over the great divide in the past year, L. D. Woodworth, a brother, having answered the call last November....
That L. D. Woodworth who “answered the call” was William’s younger brother by nearly five years. Named for their father, L. D. was actually Lafayette Woodworth, junior. Like all his siblings, L. D. was born in Wisconsin—in his case, the date was May 31, 1872. Unlike most of the older ones, he—along with his brother William—moved from Wisconsin with their parents to settle in southern California in 1886.
By the time L. D. was twenty one, he had met and married his bride, neighbor Olive Hostetler—or Hostetter, depending on which transcription you choose to believe. The wonder of online records is instant access to multitudes of documents of interest to genealogists; the horror of online records is how easily errors can be disseminated through one inadvertently placed typo. I’m voting for the FamilySearch.org entry with the later marriage date—by a mere four days—because the earlier one (thankfully) includes an image which reveals that the first date is not for the wedding, but for the affidavit’s filing date. At any rate, that image seems to confirm the spelling as Hostetler. A picture may not need to be worth a thousand words—when all it needs to give me is one solitary letter.
By September 17, 1893, that squabble over the letter “t” versus “l” became a moot point, as life began as “Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Woodworth.”
Struggles with transcribed records, whether the newlyweds were aware of this or not, were not to be over for the Woodworths. Evidently, several census records contributed to misrepresentation of various members of the family for years to come. For example, the 1900 U. S. Census, under the surname, "Wordworth," listed their second born, a daughter, with a name that appears to read, “Verdera.” However, the 1910 census showed this second daughter to be named LaFay—only you can’t really be sure about that, because the “F” overwrites another letter. In 1920, unfortunately, that daughter—whether “Verdera” or “LaFay”—was nowhere to be seen. One can only assume she left this household to marry and start a home of her own. Or—who knows?—perhaps to assume another identity of her own.
All told, the L. D. Woodworth family consisted of two sons and two daughters: Carroll and Harvey, and Margery and Verdera/LaFay. From their start as a couple in 1893, to the point at which they bought a barley field in 1897 and converted it into their family home, and onward through those years with their four children, Lafayette and Olive most likely had many of the same ups and downs of family life as many of us have had.
There were, of course, some exceptions to this average-life litany. There is one of them, in particular, I’d like to take a closer look at—but that is a task I’ll save for another day.